Roche is the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Professor of German Language and Literature and Concurrent Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

Roche teaches courses in German language, literature, and culture as well as in philosophy and film. He also offers broader courses, such as the two-semester Humanities Seminar, which takes students in the Fall from Homer to Dante and in the Spring from Machiavelli to Trethewey, and the College Seminar, which is oral-intensive, explores great questions, and draws on the arts, humanities, and social sciences. In 2013 Roche received the Joyce Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and in 2006 the Kaneb Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. See also teaching.

His publications have been on German literature and on philosophy, film, and higher education. Roche is the author of 11 books, including Why Choose the Liberal Arts? (University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), which received the 2012 Frederic W. Ness Book Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and Why Literature Matters in the 21st Century (Yale University Press, 2004), which was chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine.

His two most recent books are Beautiful Ugliness: Christianity, Modernity, and the Arts (2023) and Alfred Hitchcock: Filmmaker and Philosopher (2022).  An interview on Beautiful Ugliness is available as a video or a podcast. The book was recently named a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in Art, with the winner to be announced in June 2024. 

Other recent books address issues of higher education. Realizing the Distinctive University was published in 2017 and was a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in Education. An interview based on the book appeared in InsideHigherEd. Reviews have appeared in, among other outlets, Commonweal, The Cresset, Teacher’s College Record, and the Planning for Higher Education Journal. In 2014 Roche published Was die deutschen von den amerikanischen Universitäten lernen können und was sie vermeiden sollten. An excerpt in advance of publication appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, as did a subsequent essay based on the book. German print reviews are available here and here. See also scholarship and curriculum vitae.

From 1997 to 2008, Roche served as the I. A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. He arrived at Notre Dame in 1996 after having served 12 years at the Ohio State University, including the final five years as Chairperson of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. See also service.

He received a bachelor’s degree in the History of Ideas from Williams College in 1978, a master’s degree in Philosophy from the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen in Germany in 1980, and a doctorate in German Literature from Princeton University in 1984.

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