[The following post is an interview with Denise Goldman (phish.net user denisegold) about her article, “You Were the Song that My Soul Understood.” The interview is part of an AMA series celebrating the publication of the “Phish and Philosophy” special issue of the Public Philosophy Journal, edited by Stephanie Jenkins and Charlie Dirksen. Denise will also be answering your questions in the comments throughout the week. The next post will feature Kate Aly-Brady, Daniel Budiansky, Adam Lioz, and Rupa Mitra of Phans for Racial Equity, so please submit your questions now.]
Tell us about yourself. Who are you? When was your first show? Why do you come back?
Hi everyone! I am an adjunct professor of freshman writing & research at Long Island University. I teach a class in ethnographic research using this research as a model for my students. I am also a college admissions coach who helps high school students with their college applications. My first Phish experience was at the Boston Garden on 10/30/1992, which was actually Phish’s first time playing the Garden. It was a one-set show which was part of a larger multi-band show. My first official Phish show was at Red Rocks on 6/10/1994. I also went to Big Cyprus, which was one of my most memorable experiences. I identify as a Phish fan and value both the band (who has kept things fresh and exciting for 30 years) and the community (my soul-sisters and brothers) who have made me feel like every show is home.
Why did you decide to write this essay? What do you want your readers to take away from it?
My story is unique amongst the other scholars published in this journal because I was inspired to conduct this research after meeting some Phish “aca-fans” during the Baker’s Dozen, who were joining forces to create “Phish Studies.” At this time, online communities were on the rise and the novelty of “Phish Chicks” really fascinated me. I loved listening to the discourse that was created by women finding other women with whom they connected over the shared love of Phish. Although all discourse communities, including this one, alter over time (with new members coming in), the onset of this community was really a beautiful thing. As I have used this research in my own teaching, I would love for others to take away the same message: discourse communities form from a shared goal for which communication is the conduit for achieving the goal. With that, you see a unique language that forms as well as various genres that satisfy the needs of the members. Since we are naturally drawn to these communities based on our interests, it is important to recognize how we adapt this second language into our daily lives. This research allowed me to develop a curriculum that I use in my teaching and for which I was published in The Journal of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning. I believe that a real understanding of your audience allows you to learn how to be a better writer and communicator. While there will always be some controversy that arises within discourse communities, the overall nature of them as well as the learning potential that can be gained from them should be prioritized.
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