Call for Proposals

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


Oregon State University is pleased to announce the second 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, 2024.
Over the past forty years, Phish has built a fervent fan base and an 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 and other achievements, Phish has only recently begun to receive the scholarly attention that many other artists in popular music have enjoyed.

Over three days in 2019, nearly 200 scholars and fans participated in the first Phish Studies Conference. Highlights included a listening session led by musicologists, formal presentations by over fifty scholars, a pop-up museum of Phish artifacts, a panel of Mockingbird Foundation Board members, a film preview, and a jam band show. Our planning for 2024 includes a change of venue that will allow participation by more scholars and fans. 


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

•       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
•       Elements of Live Performance: Cover songs; Concert lighting; Venues (Accessibility; Sustainability; Safety); Instruments and Gear; Fan space and place
•       Fan Culture: Fan communities (virtual, face-to-face); Fan communication; Fandom; Fan art; Parking lots; Tape trading; Issues of race, gender, religion, sexuality, & disability; Activism; Subcultural identities; Fan mythologies; Ethics
•      Music and Lyrics: Compositional practice; Improvisational strategies; Band mythologies, including Gamehendge; Questions of genre; Historiography; Literature & poetry; Rhetorical analysis; Philosophical questions; Side projects; Music theory
•       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, roundtable, or workshop proposals (three presenters minimum). Complete panel proposals should include an abstract for each participant’s contribution plus 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. Please provide three keywords describing your presentation. Abstracts are due no later than January 15, 2024.


We invite artists to celebrate Forty Years of Phish with a curated exhibition of artwork to be featured in conference venue hallways and meeting rooms. Selections will be based on originality, interpretation, quality, demonstration of ability, and its relevance to Phish. Accepted works will be displayed with the artist’s name, title of work, and website or email address.  Media can include Ceramics, Drawings, Films, Jewelry, Paintings, Photographs, Prints (including posters), Sculpture, Textiles, Music, and Videos. 

Please submit a 250-500 word Conference art exhibit proposal, including dimensions and installation requirements. Provide a link to a portfolio or website of your work that includes photographs of your artwork and other relevant information. Submissions are due no later than January 15, 2024.


What is a conference without performance? Ooooh-oooh, performances are grand!

As part of the conference programming, we invite individual musicians and bands to perform during nightly social events. Performers and bands do not necessarily have to play the music of Phish, but should have some relevance and connection to the band or their music. We welcome both Phish covers, Phish side project covers, and/or originals inspired by or otherwise connected to the band and their compositional or improvisational ethos.

Please submit a 250-500 word Conference performance proposal describing your music and rationale for wanting to perform at the conference, and provide a link to a recording (studio or live, 3 songs maximum) that you feel best represents your style and typical repertoire. Recordings and proposals are due no later than January 15, 2024.


Proposals in all categories are due no later than January 15, 2024 via Oregon State University’s proposal 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)

Conference room full of people watching a woman speak from a podium.
Phish Studies Conference 2019; Image by Derek Finholt of Focused Visions