From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Festchrift)
Jump to: navigation, search

In academia, a Festschrift (German pronunciation: [ˈfɛstʃrɪft]; plural, Festschriften [ˈfɛstʃrɪftən]) is a book honoring a respected person, especially an academic, and presented during his or her lifetime. The term, borrowed from German, could be translated as celebration publication or celebratory (piece of) writing (literally 'party-writing'; cognate with 'feast-script'). Sometimes, the Latin term liber amicorum (literally: “book of friends”) is used for a Festschrift. The German word Festschrift has been incorporated into the English language. A comparable book presented posthumously is called a Gedenkschrift (memorial publication).


Originating in Germany before the World War I, this European tradition of honoring special achievements in science and culture was carried to the United States by scientists who escaped the Nazis.[1][2] In the second half of the 20th century the practice has become used internationally. Since no English term for such a book to mark a special occasion had been in use, the German word Festschrift has been incorporated into the English language and typically is used without the italics that designate a foreign term, although the capitalization of the first letter is usually retained from German. Its plural may be either the original "Festschriften" or anglicized as "Festschrifts".[3] Festschriften are often titled something like Essays in Honour of... or Essays Presented to... .

A Festschrift compiled and published by electronic means on the internet is called a Webfestschrift (pronounced either [vɛp-] or [wɛb-]), a term coined by the editors of the late Boris Marshak's Webfestschrift, Eran ud Aneran,[4] published online in October 2003. The corresponding Webgedenkschrift does not appear to be in frequent use as of July 2015.[5]

A Festschrift contains original contributions by the honored 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. Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, for example, began in 1972 as a Festschrift to commemorate the 75th birthday of Joseph Vogt, a German classical historian. Four volumes were planned, but it has since reached 89 volumes (including several which were planned for the next years, but put on hold in 1998). The essays usually relate in some way to, or reflect upon, the honoree's contributions to their scholarly field, but can include important original research by the 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 prominent academics, several Festschriften might be prepared by various groups of students and colleagues, particularly if the scholar made significant contributions to 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, according to Claudio Naranjo, can symbolize the proverbial passing of the torch.[6]

Endel Tulving, a Canadian neuroscientist, proposed that "a Festschrift frequently enough also serves as a convenient place in which those who are invited to contribute find a permanent resting place for their otherwise unpublishable or at least difficult-to-publish papers."[7]

As Irving Louis Horowitz summarized:

Festschriften persist and multiply. Why? Because they are not just retrospective, but prospective. That is to say the Festschrift is a Beruf, a call to further work, effort, and energy, a call to the improvement of learning, of a discipline, a science, an artistic vision, or an intellectual position. Even in this age of mass Festschriften, they remain a special literary jenre... .

— Communicating Ideas: The Politics of Scholarly Publishing, p. 237.

Unusual Festschriften and feats concerning Festschriften[edit]

  • Jagdish Bhagwati has been honored with six Festschriften, an extraordinary number. Three were presented in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, the latter two on Bhagwati’s 60th birthday and the former during a scientific conference held at Rotterdam at the time of the award of an honorary degree. On Bhagwati’s 70th Birthday, two Festschrift conferences were organized. The sixth and final Festschrift was organized on 5 August 2005.
  • 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.
  • A review of a Festschrift in honor of MIT's philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson ("Fact and Value") began with a list of thirteen conditions that must be satisfied by any adequate Festschrift ("conditions of adequacy"). The review was written by Drexel University philosopher Alan Soble.[8]

For nonacademics[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Horowitz, Irving Louis. Communicating Ideas: The Politics of Scholarly Publishing. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1991.
  2. ^ Ricki Lewis. Festschriften Honor Exceptional Scientific Careers, Scholarly Influences, The Scientist, September 2, 1996.
  3. ^ Michael Agnes, editor in chief (2004). Webster's New World College Dictionary, fourth edition. Wiley Publishing. p. 524. ISBN 0-02-863118-8. 
  4. ^ "Eran ud Aneran - Transoxiana Webfestschrift Series 2003". Transoxiana.org. ISSN 1666-7050. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  5. ^ Google search turns up no results for "Webgedenkschrift"
  6. ^ Claudio Naranjo. Festschrift
  7. ^ Endel Tulving (2007). "Are there 256 different kinds of memory?". In James S. Nairne. The foundations of remembering: essays in honor of Henry L. Roediger III. Psychology Press. p. 39. ISBN 9781841694467. 
  8. ^ Soble, Alan G. Review of "Fact and Value: Essays on Ethics and Metaphysics for Judith Jarvis Thomson", Essays in Philosophy, Volume 4, 2003.
  9. ^ Buckley, William F., Jr. (October 9, 1995). "Irving's Whodunit: An exploration of cause and effect.". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  10. ^ Sayer, George (1994). Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis. Crossway Books, second edition. ISBN 1-58134-739-1. 

External links[edit]

  • LNCS Festschrifts – a list of festschrifts published in honor of famous computer scientists