NewEmploy Wales Limited, Cardiff. Page 2. Publications: Obukoadata, P. Akpan, Emilienne Idorenyin Page 52 Akpan, I.
Akpan, and P. Davis No longer online. Grayson Lagos: Foresight, Sekou, Postcolonial Text 2. Online version: 27 September Forgiveness and Healing', Guardian , 10 March Part of a multi-authored feature entitled 'British values, Michael Gove? Here's help from abroad on what they are'.
Also published in The Gulf Times , 29 June In collaboration with David Van Peteghem. In collaboration with Hans Schippers. About Frederick Douglass.
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Ije at School London: Macmillan, Focuses on Chika's background, her writing and politics. English with Italian subtitles. Interview with Miriam N. Kotzin, Per Contra 17 Also published on Ebys, a Literary Blog , 26 March Part 1 in Dutch, starts with a reading from the Dutch version of Night Dancer. See also parts 2 and 3 in English. See also part 2. She is aware however that "it is not uncommon to find some senior academics, whose retirement is imminent, lobbying for [the honour of organizing a conference to mark the occasion of their retirement], and providing the resources to have conferences organized and books of essays published to commemorate the end of their service in the institution where they had given the best of their productive years on earth.
In fact, Ndimele informs us that the Linguistics Association of Nigeria is determined and desirous to honour her members who have excelled in the field of academics, and so the festschrift series it commissioned "is published annually to celebrate most outstanding scholars who have made very impressive marks in the study and promotion of languages, cultures, and literatures in Nigeria" Critical Issues, "Preface". However, we must admit that no festschrift can be produced without the awareness of its honouree. I am aware of some honourees who have written to influential contributors to encourage them to make submissions to festschrifts on them.
This is especially so because of the essential structure of festschrifts. A typical festschrift opens with a preface, which might as well be taken as a mission statement of the editor s. Next follows a foreword and sometimes a citation if it is a book to be presented at a valedictory gathering. Then follows the essays assembled for the book. Most of the time, the essays reflect what the editors advertised in their "call for papers", and often move in the direction of materials relevant to the research interests of the honouree. Some of the essays could be on the subject's own writing or theoretical postulations on various issues; a few essays I have seen dig into the private correspondence of the subject, although some of them indeed need not have been included or cited.
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There may also be special tributes as we find in the one on Ossie Onuora Enekwe , and memorial poems where the subject is dead, as in that on Ezenwa-Ohaeto. We also normally find bibliographical listings and awards, and honours and recognitions local and international. Here, we find a lot of "padding", the inclusion of items that may be considered irrelevant. Then we have the interview, usually placed at the end, before the full list of the subject's publications.
But because the biographical details have been highly edited, with a lot of "offensive" information that would show the negative side of the honouree expunged, the live interview conducted specifically for the festschrift is the most useful. And this is because such interviews are very comprehensive, and are conducted in an environment devoid of distractions. Obi Oguejiofor has noted, "It is inspiring to let them tell the living and next generations what inspired them in their work, what shaped their dedication; what sustained their engagement and their steadfastness, in simple terms, what made them succeed where so many failed" "Preface", in Ezenwa-Ohaeto and Ogbazi xxii.
We now come to the ultimate question: what are the implications of the flourishing of the festschrift tradition for the future of African literary criticism? The first is that in the absence of a biography or autobiography of the subject, the festschrift becomes a medium for immortalizing in print the subject, far beyond what his personal writings have earned him or her. In this regard, festschrifts are encouraging biographical criticism as a method of gaining a better understanding of a writer or scholar's works, through understanding his life and times as he reveals in the interview he gave to the editor s.
This, I am sure, would not go down well with formalist critics. Next, in the face of economic difficulties that have created publication problems for scholars, the festschrift has opened up doors of opportunities for publication for budding critics, especially since there could now be collaboration by editors and contributors in order to reduce the weight of the debt burden arising from private book publishing.
Thus, literary criticism is kept alive. Again, younger scholars who are brought into the exercises of primary proofreading and editing of submitted manuscripts get initiated into the "cult" of book publishing, and a number of them bring along their digital knowledge and skills into the production of the book in question.
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Festschrift production has also helped reduce or even curb one bad variety of brain-drain, the situation where writers or potential writers and critics in the academia drop their formal academic engagements for non-academic pursuits in order to make ends meet in a hostile economy. Festus A. Adesanoye describes this as "internal brain drain". This does not refer to "the brain drain that has resulted from the fact of quite an unacceptably large number of the nation's best brains having had to jump ship to seek career fulfilment in more economically commodious circumstances outside the country.
Thus, where lecturers would have abandoned their jobs due to lethargy arising from lack of job satisfaction and frustration, they are gingered into action. The publication opportunities opened up by calls for papers wakes them up from their stupor, especially where these calls come from their former teachers or intimate colleagues, or even former students, who compel them to engage their intellect more productively.
The prospect of identifying with the book project itself can be exciting, and because there are usually many submissions, each contributor tries to write and submit a paper that would scale through the rigorous test in the process of peer review. All in all, the production of a festschrift and its public presentation also provides an opportunity for not only showcasing younger writers and critics, by openly subjecting their efforts to public scrutiny thereby encouraging them.
It also enhances their financial fortunes, since at the end of the day, especially for well-publicised and well-attended book presentation ceremonies to which men and women of substance respond, the contributors may reap financial benefits accruing from substantial amounts of money donated to support the book being presented. This is in addition to Nwachukwu-Agbada's perceptive observation that "literary festschrifts are a valuable means of advancing the heritage of writing as well as cultural theories and epistemology" see "Foreword" to Akpuda xvi.
The festschrift tradition is also gradually reshaping the moral conduct of scholars and critics and others who see themselves as potential festschrift personalities. Since the possibility is there for a man who has achieved a lot as an intellectual to become selected as the subject of a festschrift, because of the meticulousness of editors in their choices, many personalities of note are now very self-conscious of their conduct both in private and public life.
The festschrift tradition has also entrenched the celebration of scholars and academics of worthwhile they are alive. It has also encouraged the in-depth study of the works of writers even their obscure works that have ordinarily escaped the eyes of critics. We might add that the festschrift has also encouraged the study of authors and their works through the interviews which they give, through which we try to correlate their pronouncements to their art or theoretical postulations.
It has therefore also made the interviewing of writers a sine qua non for understanding their credo, as well as elevating the interview to the status of sub-genre of prose. One point we must not ignore is that the increasing publication of quality festschrifts, through the valorisation of those to whom the honour is due, has begun to help knowledgeable persons with discernment to start separating the sheep from the goats in the academia, a process of sifting that would ensure that only the best remain after the wheat has been separated from the chaff through winnowing.
Evidence of this, is that some of our scholars have more than one festschrift dedicated to them, for example, Chinua Achebe, M. This is a salutary development, especially in our situation where we have stood for too long on a foundation of an unhealthy mix of negative values. As more and more people in the academia and other vocations continually engage in self-examination, as a preface for determining self-worth, those habits and drives that encourage ego massaging behaviours would gradually hopefully be deemphasized and dropped.
Men and women in positions of responsibility would we also hope take a cue and become more conscious of their conduct while in office, especially if they expect that some day they could be nominated for valorisation through a festschrift. There is, however, one problem that manifested from the flourishing of festschrifts. A very meticulous look at some of them, especially those produced by young former students in honour of their former teachers, shows that a number of the essays are shallow and weak, sounding like refurbished lecture notes, because of the limited research experience of those contributors.
The rush to beat deadlines in also part of the problem, and when the essays are submitted, some of the editors do not seem in spite of their claims to the contrary to subject those essays to proper peer review. As Echeruo has noted in an interview with Ezechi Onyerionwu,. Like many of my colleagues, I have been a stickler for thoroughness in scholarship [ I have learnt from my teachers and from the experience of reading, generally, to always imagine that there is a wiser, more experienced reader over my shoulder, another pair of eyes reading and judging every word I write and every argument I make.
Onyerionwu, 21 st Century What makes a scholarly book or article is the process of vetting which we call "peer review". It is not a perfect system, but it vouches that people familiar with the subjects on which we write had the opportunity of first reading the piece and recommending its publication so the profession can also read it and, hopefully, learn from it.
Beyond that, the peer review system helps the author see the strengths of his or her work Onyerionwu, 21 st Century I have quoted Echeruo at length because what he says also has to do directly with intellectual humility, the ability to admit that you cannot know it all and therefore cannot say the last word on any matter, which I see lacking presently in contemporary African literary criticism.
It also saves you from being accused of intellectual arrogance. We notice that part of the reason some younger critics refuse to show the drafts of their work to presumably more knowledgeable seniors is not necessarily the fact that some seniors have forced themselves into 'voluntary retirement", remaining dormant for too long as academics even while not yet due for actual retirement. It has to do partly with the fear of the younger ones that the older ones may once again sideline them and take over the show.
We notice too that the poor quality of some of the papers published in festschrifts is due to the fact that some of those commissioned to write papers are unprepared, or are taken unawares by the call for papers; but the urge not to disappoint those who have honoured them with such an invitation to participate in the project compels them to "submit something".
It could also happen that by some coincidence some of those invited might already be working on some topic related to the declared purview of the proposed book, in which case all they need to do is "refurbish" what they already have in hand to beat the deadline. In some cases, in their haste to "assemble something" the editors do not insist on essays that have direct relevance to the research interest of the subject, and those invited just submit essays they have already written, but have been unable to publish for various reasons.
My interviews with editors of festschrifts reveal that the extension of invitations to contributors often depends on the estimation or ranking of such scholars in the opinion of the editors. Such criteria as academic rank, status, academic activeness and other criteria come into play, but the presumed ability to deliver quality papers at short notice seems to predominate.
In all, the sometimes indiscriminate acceptance of everything submitted leads to editorial problems for the editors, who find themselves unable to arrange the submitted articles into sections that show coordinated and well-thought-out organization. The salutary side to the emergence of the festschrift as a forum for expressing critical opinion in African literature though is that it has shown too that in spite of the hurry in which some of them seem to be, there are quite a number of meticulous critics among the younger generation.
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All they need is to exercise a little more patience, and add more "rigour " to their work, in the effort to use literary criticism to complement the efforts of the creative writer. By so doing they would be helping use the festschrift "to provide blueprints to individuals on what society, as a progressive and development-oriented institution expects from them, and of course, how to go about developing the attitude that is needed to fulfil such responsibilities.
Thus, apart from serving as another medium for immortalizing recognized achievers, and as an additional forum for expressing well thought out critical opinions on established and emergent writers, the festschrift will also serve as a moral barometer for our society. Adesanoye, F. Ibadan: Heinemann, Adeyemi, Sola ed. Bayreuth: Publisher, Akanlawon, T. Akpuda, A. Owerri: Treasure Books, Anasiudu, B. Nwaozuzu and C. Okebalama eds. Onitsha: Africana First Publishers. Angya, C. Shitta eds. Arndt, S. Berndt eds. Arnold, Matthew "The Study of Poetry. Kermode et al.
London: OUP Asagba, A. Sam Ukala: His Work at Sixty. Ibadan: Kraft, Awodiya, M. Interpretative Essays in Honour of Femi Osofisan.
Vol 2. Awonusi, S. Babalola, E. Akoka: U of Lagos P Chukwu, A. Afam Ebeogu at Issues in Language and Literature. Abakaliki: Willyrose and Appleseed Pub. Coy, Diala, I. Eka, D. Uyo: U of Uyo P Eko, E. Flora Nwapa: Critical Pespectives.