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Dr Christiane Schönfeld appointed to Royal Irish Academy

Dr Christiane Schönfeld pictured with Professor Pat Guiry, President of the RIA, and Professor Michael Healy, Vice-President Research at MIC

Pictured: Dr Christiane Schönfeld with Professor Pat Guiry, President of the RIA, and Professor Michael Healy, Vice-President Research at MIC

Mary Immaculate College (MIC) academic, Dr Christiane Schönfeld, has been appointed to the prestigious Royal Irish Academy in recognition of her exceptional contribution to the humanities and research. Dr Schönfeld, who is the Head of MIC’s Department of German Studies, was one of 28 academics to be admitted to the Academy at a special ceremony in Dublin on 24 May. 

The Royal Irish Academy, founded in 1785, is Ireland’s leading body of experts supporting and promoting the sciences and humanities. Membership of the all-island Academy is awarded to people who have attained the highest distinction by their unique contributions to education and research. Membership of the RIA is the highest academic honour in Ireland. 

Speaking after her admittance to the Academy, Dr Schönfeld said: “To say I am delighted about this appointment is an understatement. Membership in the RIA is a huge honour and I would like to express my gratitude to Professor Anne Fuchs (Humanities Institute, UCD) and Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh (University of Galway) for nominating me, to all the international experts for evaluating my work, and to the RIA’s appointing committee for granting me membership. I look forward to representing MIC in the Academy, while working with other members, providing my expertise, and supporting the Academy in promoting its important strategic mission in Ireland and internationally.”

Dr Schönfeld studied Art History and Germanic Languages and Literatures at the Universities of Freiburg and Bonn in Germany, and at The Pennsylvania State University in the US. She was a lecturer in German Studies at the University of Wales, Lampeter, before moving to Ireland. Dr Schönfeld, as the primary caregiver to her children, spent eight years teaching part-time at the University of Galway before being appointed Head of the Department of German Studies at MIC in 2009. 

Dr Schönfeld has published widely on German literature, creative women, and marginalised individuals such as prostitutes or exiles, including monographs on the representation of the prostitute in German Expressionism, and on the History of German Literature on Film. She is an initiator and co-founder of the Irish Centre for Transnational Studies at MIC and co-edited the works of one of the most influential playwrights of the Weimar Republic—the anti-fascist and exile, Ernst Toller.

Congratulating Dr Schönfeld, Professor William Leahy, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at MIC, said: “This is a wonderful achievement and much deserved recognition of Dr Schönfeld’s contribution to education and research over her academic career to date. Dr Schönfeld is the first MIC academic ever admitted to the Royal Irish Academy and we are proud to have someone of her calibre representing the College in the RIA and internationally. On behalf of the Faculty of Arts, I congratulate Dr Schönfeld and wish her continued success as a member of the Academy.”

Speaking at the appointment ceremony in Dublin was Professor Pat Guiry, President of the Royal Irish Academy, who said: “Ireland should be immensely proud of these 28 women and men who have been elected by their peers and have brought international acclaim to our country through their distinct areas of research.”