Call for Proposals

Phish Studies:

An Interdisciplinary Conference on the Band, its Music, and its Fans


Oregon State University is pleased to announce the first peer-reviewed academic conference devoted to the music and fan culture of the improvisational rock band Phish. The conference will take place on Oregon State’s campus in Corvallis, Oregon, May 17-19, 2019.

For the past thirty-five years, Phish has been consistently building a fervent fan base and impressive live performance history, often working outside traditional avenues of the mainstream recording industry. They staged the world’s largest New Year’s Eve concert in December 1999 with a marathon seven-hour set, redefined the modern American music festival, and performed a record-setting thirteen night run at New York’s Madison Square Garden without repeating a single song during the summer of 2017. Despite these achievements, Phish has received far less scholarly attention than many other acts in popular music.

Bringing scholars together from diverse academic disciplines, we welcome a wide range of methodological and theoretical approaches to the sonic, narrative, performative, visual, and cultural worlds of Phish, including but not limited to:

  • Music and Lyrics
    • Compositional practice; Improvisational strategies; Band mythologies, including Gamehendge; Questions of genre; Historiography
  • Elements of Live Performance
    • Cover songs; Concert lighting; Venues; Fan space and place
  • Fan Culture
    • Fan communities (virtual, face-to-face); Fan art; Parking lots; Tape trading; Issues of race, gender, religion, sexuality, disability; Activism; Subcultural identities; Fan mythologies;
  • Business
    • Business practices; Place within music industry; Tape trading; Early adoption of the internet; Media framing of Phish; Influence on American music festival culture; Influence on the jam band genre
  • Quantitative Analysis
    • Analyses of setlists, fan show ratings, tour itineraries

Please submit abstracts of 250-500 words for one of the following:

  1. Individual 20-minute papers
  2. 90-minute panel proposals (three presenters minimum):  Complete panel proposals should include an abstract for each panelist’s contribution as well as a 250-word (max.) justification for the panel.
  3. Student Scholar 10 minute papers: Advanced undergraduates may submit proposals to participate in a Student Scholar panel. Selected students will present their research to a supportive, interdisciplinary community of scholars and be paired with a professional mentor.

We encourage proposals from scholars at any stage of their career, including graduate students as well as scholars outside of academia. Abstracts should specify the presenter’s methodological and theoretical approach, summarize conclusions, and specify the broader academic implications of the research. UPDATED DEADLINE: Abstracts are due no later than January 22, 2019.

Participants will have the opportunity to submit revised versions of their presentations for an edited volume following the conference.

Submit proposals via Oregon State University’s online abstract submission system


Program committee:

Dr. Stephanie Jenkins, Committee Chair (Philosophy)

Dr. Christina Allaback (Theater Studies)

Dr. Jnan Ananda Blau (Communication Studies)

Dr. Jacob A. Cohen (Musicology)

Dr. Natalie Dollar (Speech Communication)

Dr. Paul Jakus (Economics)

Dr. Elizabeth Yeager (American Studies)


Questions regarding content and programming can be addressed to:

Dr. Stephanie Jenkins, Committee Chair
Assistant Professor, OSU School of History, Philosophy, and Religion

Questions regarding registration can be addressed to:

OSU Conference Services
Oregon State University
200 LaSells Stewart Center
Corvallis, OR 97331
Phone: 541-737-9300
Toll Free: 800-678-6311
Fax: 541-737-9315