Central Penn College - Colloquium Recap: Boxing, Preaching & Assimilation

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August 13, 2019 Colloquium Recap: Boxing, Preaching & Assimilation

At last week’s Faculty Colloquium: “Men with Bark On: the Mormon Masculine Ideal, 1890-1920," Dr. Brant Ellsworth gave attendees a lot to ponder regarding America’s past and its present. He asked provocative questions, such as: What is an American? Who is an American? Who are the “insiders” and the “outsiders”? And how do the outsiders become the insiders?

Ellsworth focused on how one outsider group––The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members––struggled to assimilate into the American mainstream. The group was driven from New York and Missouri in the 1800s for its nontraditional beliefs before settling and establishing itself in Utah.

The church sought to ingratiate itself with the mainstream by shedding some of its more controversial practices, such as polygamy. Ellsworth examined the organization’s attempt to rebrand itself by making preacher and boxer Willard Bean the face of the church, as it re-established a base back in New York State. Bean’s rugged individualism mirrored many of the qualities Americans admired in Western archetypes and heroes, such as Buffalo Bill.

Kudos to Dr. Ellsworth for an illuminating history lesson!

Prior to the start of the presentation, Ryan Lawrence was awarded a $500 scholarship from the Education Foundation.