Conference Overview

The Grateful Dead Conference will be held in San Jose, California, November 5–8, 2014.

Registration & Call for Papers

To attend the event, please fill out the registration form.

If you are interested in presenting at the conference, please follow submit an abstract based on your presentation.

Conference Background

This conference represents the culmination of more than five decades of academic work on the Grateful Dead phenomenon. It builds on seventeen years of academic conference meetings devoted to the topic, including “Unbroken Chain: The Grateful Dead in Music, Memory and History,” a three-day conference held at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst in November 2007, and seventeen years of meetings of the Grateful Dead Area of the Southwest Popular Culture and American Culture Association, a large annual conference that draws an international constituency.

The conference title summarizes both the appeal of the topic as an academic subject and the approach taken by much of the academic work on the Grateful Dead phenomenon: the Dead are a fascinating and significant topic for scholarly inquiry, and they are a skeleton key to many other critical issues of great interest to scholars from a wide array of fields. In short, the Grateful Dead phenomenon immediately invokes, and lends itself to explicating, broader issues that are at the forefront of a number of academic discourses today. The Dead phenomenon represents a world in itself, and it also invokes the broader world around it. 

The theme of the conference references and builds upon the trend in many disciplines, and especially in the humanities, that is interrogating and subverting traditional divides that have cordoned off periods and themes in American culture. Yale professor Wai Chee Dimock’s Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time (Princeton 1997) made the case for looking at American literature in a much broader, transnational sense, and referenced the Grateful Dead’s lyrics and performances as work that called for and modeled such treatment. Other scholars in other fields have taken up her challenge, as have scholars studying the Grateful Dead. 

This conference offers academics and interested persons the opportunity to convene, share thoughts, and participate in an extraordinary colloquium that will support interdisciplinary scholarship in a ground-breaking international forum. Participants will have the opportunity to revise papers for publication.


Art Exhibit: Sound into Sight - the Visual Vocabulary of the Grateful Dead

October 22 marked the opening of a major exhibit of Grateful Dead related art in the Special Collections room on the 5th floor of the Martin Luther King Library at San Jose State University. The exhibit, curated by the Haight Street Art Center, is entitled "Sound into Sight, the Visual Vocabulary of the Grateful Dead," and traces the origin and evolution of the iconic and vivid imagery that has evolved in posters, t-shirts, album art, and other visual media since the band was founded back in 1965. The exhibit will remain on display through January 15. Special Collections is open Monday-Thursday 11-6, Friday 11-5, and Saturday 1- 5.