The world's most iconic jam band has finally become the subject of academic intrigue. Stanford University will offer a class focused entirely on the Grateful Dead next year.
The six-week online course titled "Psychedelia and Groove: The Music and Culture of the Grateful Dead" will be taught by musician and journalist David Gans, who's the host of SiriusXM's The Grateful Dead Hour.
The group's "groundbreaking fusion of music, counterculture, and community engagement forged an enduring legacy that transcends generations while shaping the evolution of music and cultural expression," according to the course description on Stanford's website.
"By the end of the course, students will have a well-rounded appreciation for the roots, struggles, and milestones that shaped the Grateful Dead’s trajectory, an understanding of its profound impact on music and culture, and insight into a legacy that still resonates deeply today."
Tuition for the course is $405. Students will meet for 50 minutes every Monday night between Jan. 22 and March 4.
The first section of the class will focus on the band's origins in the San Francisco music scene. Students will then begin to dissect the group's catalog. The final portion of the class will be dedicated to analyzing the band's broader cultural impact and the "deadhead" phenomenon.
"Grateful Dead music is collaborative and improvisational. Accordingly, I have invited guest speakers to join me in at least five of the classes," Gans wrote in the course's syllabus. "I’ve been an oral historian and a radio interviewer for more than 40 years; I have learned that conversation is a vastly more effective mode of presentation than lecturing."
One of the guest speakers will be Steve Silberman, a co-author of Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads. He was also featured in the documentary Long Strange Trip and is a regular guest on the Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast.
The Grateful Dead officially broke up in 1995 after iconic frontman and guitarist Jerry Garcia died from a heart attack. Two former members, guitarist Bob Weir and drummer Bill Kreutzmann, have been keeping the group's memory alive through a new project called Dead & Co.
The new band is reportedly considering an extended residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas, a new venue defined by its massive interior and exterior LED screens. Phish, another group of Grateful Dead acolytes, have already committed to playing four shows there next year, including one on the cannabis-oriented holiday 4/20.
Stanford is not the only school that has a class dedicated entirely to one band. The University of Rochester offers a course called the Music of the Beatles through its School of Popular Music.