The Grateful Dead will spring back to life Saturday when one of the foremost authorities on the counterculture band makes a presentation at a Fairfield University academic conference.

The talk and slideshow by Nicholas Meriwether is planned at 4 p.m. in the university's Kelly Presentation Center and is free and open to the public.

The presentation is titled "Archiving the Counterculture and Raising the Dead: The Grateful Dead Archive and the Legacy of the Sixties."

Meriwether is the archivist of a Grateful Dead museum at the University of California-Santa Cruz, which opened in 2012 after the band donated what Fairfield called a "massive" collection of artifacts. He has written extensively about the band in both academic and popular periodicals and organized a Grateful Dead academic conference in 2014.

Meriwether's presentation is part of Fairfield University's third annual Celebrating American Studies Conference, a day-long program which will include presentations by undergraduate and graduate students and alumni relating to the topic "Race, Protest and American Culture."

The conference runs from noon to 6 p.m. and the whole program is free and open to the public. Online registration is required.

Founded in 1965 in San Francisco, the five-man Grateful Dead blended rock, bluegrass and blues with jazz influences that made the band noted for its improvisation.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on its website calls The Grateful Dead "the most important band of the psychedelic era and among the most groundbreaking acts in rock and roll history." It also was one of rock's most tireless road bands, performing more than 2,300 concerts over a three-decade span.

Fronted by the late guitarist Jerry Garcia, the band developed a network of fans called "Deadheads," which the Rock & Roll Hall calls "largest and most devoted cult following in popular music."

The band stopped touring when Garcia died in 1995, but academic interest in the Grateful Dead has grown. That interest has been heightened by a decision by the band's four surviving members to reunite this summer in Chicago for three of 50th-anniversary concerts.

"The Grateful Dead's appeal both to fans and scholars is rooted in their commitment to their craft, but it extends beyond their musical achievement," Meriwether said. "The Dead provide a way of getting at a host of topics that interest academics in a wide variety of fields, and that interest continues to grow."

Meriwether in 2014 produced a four-day academic conference -- "So Many Roads: The World of the Grateful Dead" -- that included 124 presenters from 22 states and three foreign countries.

The American studies conference will conclude with a reception and informal concert by The Phantom Pluckers, a band organized by bassist/composer Brian Torff, Fairfield's director of jazz and popular music.

To register for the conference or Meriwether's talk, visit www.fairfield.edu/asconference.