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2020 Abstracts

The Representation of Gender Role in Contemporary LDS Church Visual Culture: An exploratory study

Sommers, Taryn; Veon, Raymond (Utah State University)

Faculty Advisor: Veon, Raymond (Caine College of the Arts, Art and Design Department)

A literature search of research and academic journals suggests that there are few critical examinations of LDS visual culture in visual culture research. The purpose of this exploratory study is to examine the types of gender roles portrayed in contemporary LDS visual culture, the visual codes used to represent these gender roles, and the degree to which the representations of gender used in LDS visual culture align with findings in related visual culture studies. The result of this study will be a description of the current visual strategies used by the LDS church to represent gender roles, a thematic analysis of these visual strategies, and suggestions for future research into the ways that the LDS church visually defines gender in relation to existing trends and themes in visual culture research. The scope will include: “Mormon Ads,” images used in the LDS magazine, “Ensign,” and conference memes used during the years 2016-2019. This will contribute to the field of visual culture and gender studies by examining the visual codes used by the LDS church to portray the role and status of males and females as represented in current LDS visual culture, determining the strategies used in these representations, and discussing the potential research implications of these findings in light of themes in visual culture gender studies. Some research questions are: What visual codes are used in the representation of males, females, and mixed-sex groups in current LDS visual culture? What types of roles and status do these visual codes convey pertaining to the representation of males, females, and mixed-sex groups in current LDS visual culture? What extent do the results of investigating the above research questions align with other research findings in gender and visual culture studies? The methods used in this research will be 1) an inventory of discrete visual codes (e.g. color use, affect/expression, clothing/dress, setting, etc.) used in the LDS visual culture samples, and 2) a separate thematic analysis of the sample will also be conducted. The results of both methods will be compared, analyzed, and discussed in light of current trends in visual culture gender research. While the results of this research are expected to demonstrate that LDS visual culture will emphasize and reinforce traditional gender roles of females as mothers and homemakers and males as leaders and providers, it is hoped that this study will reveal strategies related to gender role representation unique to LDS culture.