78th Annual Conference of the Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland took place at MIC.
“By supporting intercultural awareness and knowledge, together with foreign language skills, we can contribute to an inclusive, tolerant, international community.” according to Prof. Michael A Hayes, President of Mary Immaculate College (MIC) who was speaking at the 78th Annual Conference of the Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland (AGS) held in MIC over three days from the 2nd to 4th of September.
The AGS was founded as the Conference of University Teachers of German in Great Britain and Ireland in 1932, with the aim of meeting annually 'to discuss matters pertaining to the study of German in all its branches, to promote the study thereof, to encourage research, and generally to foster high standards of competence among university teachers of German'. In the intervening years the conference has held over 70 annual conferences across Great Britain and Ireland, changing its name in 2009 to the AGS in order to focus more strongly on promoting and defending the discipline of German Studies in Higher Education in Britain and Ireland.
Welcoming the nearly 70 delegates, who travelled from all major third level institutions in Great Britain and Ireland, Prof. Hayes told of how Limerick has developed into a hub for German Studies in Ireland, with two thriving and very research-active Departments of German Studies in Mary Immaculate College and at the University of Limerick.
“In recent years, Ireland has become a very multicultural society and here at Mary Immaculate College we consider it paramount that the academic world responds to this development by training highly skilled language professionals and experts in transnational and intercultural communication”
“We are committed to promoting languages, in particular German, Irish and French, and understand the need to foster intercultural skills among our students. Indeed we are the only third-level institution in Ireland where German is taught within the Bachelor of Education degree, as an elective part of the Bachelor in Primary Teaching” stated Prof. Hayes.
The theme of this year’s conference was Transnational Screen Adaptation: Cultural and Medial Hybridities with panel discussions on such topics as History and Remembrance, Linguistics, Gender Studies, Translation, Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Studies, Boredom in German-Language Literature, Film and Discourse of the Neoliberal Present, and The War Child in the Occupied Period. According to Prof. Sarah Colvin, University of Cambridge and President of AGS “Understanding the history, culture and politics of the German-speaking countries is essential to understanding Europe; that makes German Studies absolutely key in the contemporary world”.
Also speaking at the event was Prof. Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Registrar of NUIG, who said “I am delighted to see AGS back in Ireland. The Association has played a pivotal role in German Studies through Ireland and Great Britain for over eighty years now, and given the strength of German in both Mary Immaculate College and UL, I think it is great that the conference is, for the first time, being held in Limerick.”
In attendance was Mr. Peter Adams, First Secretary at the German Embassy in Dublin, who generously sponsored the opening reception.
Speaking after the event Dr. Christiane Schönfeld, Head of German Studies, MIC; said “I am delighted to have had the opportunity to host the AGS here at Mary Immaculate College, and deeply grateful for all the help and support received from my colleagues in German Studies both here and at UL. This first AGS conference in the West of Ireland was a great success not only due to the excellent research papers and enlightening discussions, but thanks to everyone involved.”
Pictured at the conference were Prof. Michael A Hayes, President of MIC; Dr Christiane Schönfeld, Head of German Studies MIC; Mr Peter Adams, First Secretary, German Embassy Dublin and President of the AGS Professor Sarah Colvin (Cambridge University).