AskDefine | Define festschrift

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From German Festschrift ("festschrift"), from Fest, festival and Schrift, writing, from Middle High German Schrift, from Old High German Scrift, from scrban, to write, from Latin scribere, from an Indo-European Root believed to be skrbh-.


festschrift (plural festschrifts, festschriften )
  1. A tribute or memorial volume filled with essays and articles by admirers in memory of a (typically deceased) colleague.
    ''I do not have the opportunity here because of the extent of time to go through the whole text but it will be published in English if anyone is interested in the festschrift for Prima Niles retirement as General Secretary of the Council for World Mission, so if anyone is interested it will come there.''


Extensive Definition

In academia, a Festschrift (/ˈfɛstˌʃrɪft/; plural, Festschriften, /ˈfɛstˌʃrɪf.tən/) is a book honouring a respected academic and presented during his or her lifetime. The term, borrowed from German, could be translated as celebration publication or celebratory (piece of) writing. A comparable book presented posthumously is called a Gedenkschrift (memorial publication).
A Festschrift contains original contributions by the so honoured academic's close colleagues, often including his or her former doctoral students. It is typically published on the occasion of the honoree's retirement, sixtieth or sixty-fifth birthday, or other notable career anniversary. A Festschrift can be anything from a slim volume to a work in several volumes. The essays usually relate to in some way, or reflect upon, the honoree's contributions to their scholarly field, but can often include important original research by the individual authors. Many Festschriften also feature a tabula gratulatoria, an extended list of academic colleagues and friends who send their best wishes to the honoree.
In the case of very prominent academics, several Festschriften might be prepared by various groups of students and colleagues, particularly if the scholar made significant contributions to several different fields. In Germany it is an honor to be designated to prepare such a collection, and being selected by a prominent academic to edit a Festschrift can symbolize the proverbial passing of the torch.
Since no English designation for such a book has been established, the German word Festschrift is widely used internationally. However, Festschriften are often titled something like Essays in honour of... or Essays presented to...

Academics who had a notable Festschrift

  • Raymond Firth During his long and notable career, Sir Raymond Firth had three festchriften published in his honour.
  • James D. McCawley Two Festschriften, the earlier one (1972) subtitled Defamatory essays presented to James D. McCawley on his 33rd or 34th birthday and anthologizing pseudonymous articles. Some are by McCawley himself, notably the opening paper. The Festschrift was reprinted two decades later.
  • Roman Jakobson Two Festschriften, the second (1966) taking up 3 volumes totaling 2464 pages.


Increasingly, Festschriften are being compiled and published by electronic means. An electronic Festschrift is often called a Webfestschrift (pronounced either /vɛb-/ or /wɛb-/). Although there are many valuable collections published online, the first public use of this term corresponds to B.I Marshak's Webfestschrift, Eran ud Aneran, published online on October 2003.
festschrift in Danish: Festskrift
festschrift in German: Festschrift
festschrift in Italian: Festschrift
festschrift in Hebrew: ספר יובל
festschrift in Dutch: Liber amicorum
festschrift in Swedish: Festskrift
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