My view on the issue of Mormon studies.
Update and Clarification: Several people have apparently misunderstood my use of the term Mormon studies. Mormon studies is typically used in two ways.
First, as a description of the study of anything to do with Mormonism–history, art, literature, politics, religion, economics, etc.
Second, Mormon studies is used in parallel to Islamic studies or Hindu studies–that is, as a subset of religious studies. That is how I am using the term in this essay. I thought it was clear from my discussion that I was referring to Mormon studies as Mormon religious studies, that is, a subset of religious studies in general to which I compared it throughout my discussion. I’m sorry if this ambiguity was a cause of confusion.
Thus, for example, Mormon history has its own professional organization, its own annual conference, its regular professional journal. On occasion, Mormon history encompasses Mormon religion, but it also does the history of Mormon colonialism in Utah, or Mormon political impact in the early twentieth century, etc. Mormon religious studies does not.
I have argued that, as a professional discipline in academia, Mormon religious studies basically does not exist. The exception might be the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology (http://www.smpt.org/), but theology is only one subset of religious studies as a whole.