Fifth Annual Founder’s Lecture
J. Golden Kimball in Mormon Folklore
- Time: 7:00pm
- Date: November 28, 2007
- Place: Harold B. Lee Library Auditorium
About the Speaker
Born on Okinawa, the young Eric Eliason lived an itinerant life as the son of a USAF fighter pilot and a high school teaching TWA stewardess. As a teenager, he fell in love with Stephanie Smith. After Eric returned from 1987-1988 missionary service to The Netherlands and Belgium, they married in the Mesa, Arizona Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
1989 ended not only the Cold War but also Eric’s ROTC scholarship and vague military career plans. This liberated Eric’s desire for graduate school after BYU. At the University of Texas at Austin, his interests in linguistic anthropology and Caribbean Studies were eclipsed by a growing vision of an inter-disciplinary Mormon studies.
With an M.A. in anthropology and a Ph.D. in American studies, Eric came back to BYU as a folklorist and teacher of Mormon literature at Brigham Young University where he received tenure in 2004 and is currently an associate professor.
Topics on which he has published include pioneers in Mormon popular historical expression; Western American folk heroes; conversion narratives; the civil rights of Mormons and other religious minorities; the economics of women’s handicrafts on the Dutch Caribbean island of Saba (pronounced “Say-bah”) and the ecology of foxhunting in England. He has written a book about J. Golden Kimball jokes and legends and has edited a reader of Mormon studies essays; both published by the University of Illinois Press.
He is the review board editor for BYU Studies and past vice president of the folklore society of Utah. In Austin, he served as the inter-faith relations specialist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Public Affairs Council.
Returning to military service in 2002, Eric became the chaplain for the 1st Battalion of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in the Utah National Guard and served a tour of duty in Afhanistan in 2004 and the Philippines in 2006. While in Afghanistan he pioneered chaplain training for mullahs in the Afghan Security Forces and oversaw the rebuilding and restoration of 25 mosques in the Pesch Valley using local craftsman and traditional construction styles.
Eric lives in Springville, Utah with his wife Stephanie and three children Shelby, Caleb, and Noah.