OSU to host first academic conference devoted to rock band Phish

Jada Krening, News Reporter

From May 17-19, Oregon State University will host the first Phish Studies Conference, a program devoted to research about the rock band Phish, along with their fans and culture.

The program includes more than 50 presenters from 20 states plus Canada. These presenters will cover a wide range of topics from a variety of academic disciplines, including American studies, communication, musical theory and musicology, philosophy, economics and sociology, to name a few.

“Like many of us, my life was saved by rock and roll,” assistant professor in the School of History, Philosophy and Religion and organizer of the conference Stephanie Jenkins said via email. “There has never been a stand-alone conference devoted to a single band with this level of community integration and collaboration.”

Jenkins said she has been a Phish fan for most of her life. After moving to OSU in 2012, she began to merge her professional life with her passions for Phish and philosophy, and in 2014, created a Philosophy of Art course taught through OSU Ecampus nicknamed “The Philosophy of Phish.”

“The Phish community has offered my students unprecedented learning experiences through interview assignments, field trips and mentoring,” Jenkins said via email. “Through teaching the course, I connected with a number of scholars doing research about Phish, a number of whom presented at the Phish Studies Colloquium that I organized as part of a class field trip to three concerts at the Gorge Amphitheater this summer.”

Jenkins said her and a group of scholars presented together at the National Communications Association in November 2018, which is where the first Program Committee planning session for the Phish Conference was held.

“Conference planning has taken endless time and energy, and I am so grateful to have assistance from three from three planning committees, as well as unwavering support from School of History, Philosophy and Religion director Nicole von Germeten. Jill Soth and Natalia Bueno have also provided crucial guidance,” Jenkins said via email.

Natalie J. Dollar, associate professor of Speech Communication at OSU-Cascades, is serving on two committees for the conference, the Program Planning Committee and the Local Host Committee. She will also serve as a panel moderator during the conference, as well as presenting a research paper written by herself, Nicholaus Dahl, Alexa Tawzer and Nathan Goldberg entitled “Communication Improvision as Dialogue: A Framework for Understanding Phans and Deadheads.”

“The conference provides an opportunity for scholars to come together from many academic fields whereas most academic conferences are situated in a discipline, such as philosophy,” Dollar said via email. “I find it stimulating and rewarding to work with scholars from fields that compliment yet expand my own disciplinary boundaries.”

Registration is required for conference attendance. For more information and to register, visit blogs.oregonstate.edu/phish2019/.


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