Grateful Dead Archivist headed to Dead Studies Conference

UCSC Library to sponsor publication of Grateful Dead scholarly journal

cover of Dead Studies, Volume 2, Grateful Dead Archive, UC Santa Cruz
On February 8, UCSC’s Grateful Dead Archivist Nicholas Meriwether will head to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the Southwest Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Conference.

Meriwether chairs the Grateful Dead area of the conference, now celebrating its 15th year.

Past presentations in Dead studies have represented more than 22 academic fields—including anthropology, archival science, history, literature, musicology, sociology, and much more.

Meriwether is also the editor of Dead Studies, Volume 2, a new academic publication from the Grateful Dead Archive, building on more than four decades of scholarly work on the Grateful Dead and more than a decade of published work by conference scholars.

“I believe it is perhaps the only peer-reviewed academic journal solely devoted to rock music in the country,” said Meriwether.

“In the past 15 years, conference members have given 269 papers, 97 of which have been revised for publication,” he added.

Meriwether noted that the Grateful Dead section now makes up one of the largest areas of the conference on popular culture.

“The scholarly work on the Dead phenomenon spans everything from business theory and strategy to social networking, and literary analysis…you name it,” said Meriwether.

“The fact that we’re continuing to grow is indicative of the ever increasing interest in the Grateful Dead phenomenon.” 

In the past year alone, two high-profile books have been published on the Dead’s marketing acumen and business prowess--Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead by Barry Barnes, and Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead by Boston writers David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan.

But Meriwether said that the groundswell is not only in business circles, but also in the band’s popularity with the public, citing a new book by Paul Grushkin published in October titled Dead Letters: The Very Best Grateful Dead Fan Mail.

“Paul Grushkin’s book drew heavily from materials in the Grateful Dead archive,” Meriwether noted, “and all of this complements the increasingly scholarly attention devoted to the Dead phenomenon as well.”

Meriwether observed that his personal concept of an archive has changed in recent years—expanding from a primary focus on serving scholars to making an archive much more available to the public and community.

“We’re really at the crest of a wave in Dead Studies," added Meriwether.  "And it shows no sign of breaking or abating."