Oregon State University to host Phish academic conference

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will host an academic conference devoted to the improvisational rock band Phish from May 17 to 19.

Stephanie Jenkins, an assistant professor of philosophy at Oregon State, is organizing the conference. She has been a Phish fan since 1995, saw her first concert in 2003, and has seen about 150 since then.

Jenkins, who arrived at Oregon State in 2012, has taught classes about the philosophy of Phish, held public philosophy events at Phish concerts and, as part of the classes, taken students on field trips to Phish concerts.

“I was always interested in the connection between Phish and philosophy,” Jenkins said. “I just didn’t think it was something I was allowed to do. But I have really supportive colleagues here at Oregon State. They encouraged me to develop the class and that has now led to the conference.”

The conference, which will take place in Oregon State’s Memorial Union, will include more than 50 presentations from researchers from more than 20 states and Canada. Presentation titles include: “Phish’s Improvisation in Light of Talmudic Scholastic Practice,” “‘This Your First Show?’: White Racism and Subcultural Capital in the Phish Community” and “The Neuroscience of the Jam: A research paradigm to study brain inactivity underlying improvisation in Phish.”

Jenkins will give a presentation, as will one of her co-organizers of the conference, Natalie Dollar, an associate professor of speech communication at Oregon State University, Cascades. Dollar is a Phish fan and has also conducted research on the Grateful Dead.

Two students who took Jenkins’ Phish class last summer will be part of the Student Scholar Panel during the conference: Lynnea Fredrickson, an OSU-Cascades student, and Michael Moran-Kay, a philosophy major at Oregon State’s Corvallis campus.

Two community panels will include prominent members of the Phish community. A question-and-answer panel will feature board members of the Mockingbird Foundation, a nonprofit organization run by Phish-fan volunteers that raises funds for music education programs. Benjy Eisen, a music writer and co-author of Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead, will host a panel at the conference, and sign books. Eisen co-wrote the book with Bill Kreutzmann, one of the founding members and drummer for the Grateful Dead.

The conference also includes an exhibition fair, art show, concert and documentary screening.

The exhibition fair will provide opportunities for businesses and artists from the Phish community to display, promote, and sell their work. Conference organizers are still accepting participants for the exhibition fair.

The art show, “Below The Moss Forgotten: Phish in the Pacific Northwest,” will feature promotional materials and fan-created artwork that trace the band’s growth in the Pacific Northwest during the past nearly 30 years.

There will be a soft premiere of the documentary, “We’ve Got It Simple,” a film by, for, and about Phish fans. The screening will be followed by a question and answer session with the film’s director, Michael Ryan Lawrence.

Finally, Left on Wilson, a Eugene-based band, will perform Friday, May 17 at Demaggio New York Pizza, 151 NW Monroe Ave., #102 Corvallis. Music begins after 10 pm. The concert is free for registered conference attendees.

Registration is now open for the conference. The early registration rate is $125 for the weekend and includes admissions to all conference events. Day passes will be available for $75.

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Listen to an interview with Dr. Nicole von Germeten about her new book “Profit and Passion: Transactional Sex in Colonial Mexico”

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Kudos to Dr. Rena Lauer on her recent Medieval Academy Publication Subvention award!

We are very pleased to announce  that the 2018 Medieval Academy Publication Subvention has been awarded to Rena Lauer (Oregon State University) to support the publication of her forthcoming monograph, Colonial Justice and the Jews of Venetian Crete (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press).

The Medieval Academy Book Subvention Program provides grants of up to $2,500 to university or other non-profit scholarly presses to support the publication of first books by Medieval Academy members. For more information, click here. For a full list of subvented books, click here.

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Food of the Faithful – Tibetan studies scholar Geoffrey Barstow explores the limits of Buddhism

“Available sources almost universally agree that meat is delicious. Perhaps more importantly, meat is often considered necessary for human health.”

“Compassion, placing the needs of others before one’s own, lies at the very center of Tibetan religious rhetoric and self-conception.”

Food of Sinful Demons, Geoffrey Barstow

Food of the Faithful

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Religious studies program sees increase in non-religious students

Community members call for increased recognition of different religions from university.

Among adults in Oregon, 68 percent of people identify as participants of a major religion, according to Pewforum’s 2016 survey.

Being a university that is home to both domestic and international students, as well as a religious studies degree, Oregon State University’s student body represents a number of world religions, each with their own customs and traditions.

Eliza Young Barstow, a history and religious studies instructor, has noticed an interest in religious studies among students at OSU, alongside an increase in non-religious identifying students.


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Check out Dr. Marisa Chappell’s contribution to this new book Democracy and the Welfare State: The Two Wests in the Age of Austerity

After World War II, states on both sides of the Atlantic enacted comprehensive social benefits to protect working people and constrain capitalism. A widely shared consensus specifically linked social welfare to democratic citizenship, upholding greater equality as the glue that held nations together. Though the “two Wests,” Europe and the United States, differ in crucial respects, they share a common history of social rights, democratic participation, and welfare capitalism. But in a new age of global inequality, welfare-state retrenchment, and economic austerity, can capitalism and democracy still coexist?

In this book, leading historians and social scientists rethink the history of social democracy and the welfare state in the United States and Europe in light of the global transformations of the economic order. Separately and together, they ask how changes in the distribution of wealth reshape the meaning of citizenship in a post-welfare-state era. They explore how the harsh effects of austerity and inequality influence democratic participation. In individual essays as well as interviews with Ira Katznelson and Frances Fox Piven, contributors from both sides of the Atlantic explore the fortunes of the welfare state. They discuss distinct national and international settings, speaking to both local particularities and transnational and transatlantic exchanges. Covering a range of topics—the lives of migrant workers, gender and the family in the design of welfare policies, the fate of the European Union, and the prospects of social movements—Democracy and the Welfare State is essential reading on what remains of twentieth-century social democracy amid the onslaught of neoliberalism and right-wing populism and where this legacy may yet lead us.


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Life and Death Choices

Medical ethicist Courtney Campbell deals in thorny questions. If there’s a shortage of chemotherapy drugs, for example, how do you ration them? Who receives a flu vaccine if there isn’t enough to go around? When should medical treatment be stopped and death allowed? Finding answers to these seemingly intractable questions, though, is critical to developing fair medical policies.

Life and Death Choices


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Married scholars explore Jewish masculinity, femininity

Check out this article featuring Dr. Rena Lauer & Dr. Kevin Osterloh about their participation in the 12th Annual Weekend in Quest coming up March 2-4, 2018, in Astoria.

Married scholars explore Jewish masculinity, femininity

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Dr. Stacey Smith discuss her role in the Oregon building names project

Stacey Smith will appear alongside OSU VP Steve Clark on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud program today 11/29 to discuss the historical research into OSU building names and President Ray’s naming decisions. Tune in from 12:30 to 1 pm today to catch the segment in Corvallis, AM 550 or FM 103.1. https://www.opb.org/radio/programs/thinkoutloud/segment/cuba-osu-building-names-dallas-school-lawsuit/

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Philosophy School of Phish

In her innovative “Philosophy School of Phish,” Prof. Stephanie Jenkins gets students and artists in touch with philosophical questioning. http://www.engagedphilosophy.com/2017/11/25/2031/

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