Trying out a thing here on Phish.net. A new, occasional series of essays/posts from phans who are either in academia or have an intellectual bent.
While Phish was broken up, some fans used the time to go to grad school. There are plenty of fields where a die-hard Phish fan might find an academic home. In addition to more established fields like ethnomusicology, popular music study and media studies, did you know there is now a field of study (interdisciplinary in nature) known as fandom studies? (You can check out the fairly new Journal of Fandom Studies online.) There’s even a term, “aca-fan” (it’s clunky, to be sure), used to describe fans (of, really, anything) who are also in academia.
This essay is from Jnan Blau (self-professed aca-phan). He’s a tenured professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, in the Communication Studies Department. He got his Master’s and Ph.D. at Southern Illinois University, specializing in performance studies and intercultural communication, and actually wrote his doctoral dissertation on Phish and what he terms “the Phish phenomenon.” In a nutshell, he theorizes the hell out of Phish and phan culture, articulating how and why what they do onstage is so special and powerful, and how this radiates into the audience to become a thriving culture that mirrors and extends what Phish accomplishes through their music. Jnan is one of the first to publish about Phish in peer-reviewed academic journals - check out some of these papers here. This piece was written recently (in, according to him, a flash of inspiration), and his first impulse was to share it with us. We do hope you’ll check it out and enjoy it.
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