Mark Roche

Rev. Edmund Joyce, C.S.C., Professor of German Language and Literature
Concurrent Professor of Philosophy

Rev. Edmund Joyce, C.S.C., Professor of German Language and Literature
300 Decio Faculty Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
+1 574-631-8142
Office Hours
T 10:00am-10:45am and Th 2:00pm-3:15pm (300 Decio); by appointment, via Google Calendar and upon request via



Ph.D. Princeton University, 1984

M.A. Princeton University, 1982

M.A. Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, 1980

B.A. Williams College, 1978

Research and Teaching Interests

  • German literature
  • Philosophy
  • Film
  • Higher education


Roche’s interest in literature and philosophy began as undergraduate at Williams College, where he played water polo, majored in the History of Ideas, juggled in the band, and wrote a senior thesis on the poet Friedrich Hölderlin. After weighing Clown College versus a fellowship to Germany, Roche opted for the latter, earning a graduate degree with a thesis on the great humorist Hegel. Roche then pursued a path that combined the neighboring fields of German literature and philosophy. While teaching at Ohio State for 12 years, Roche regularly taught film and, despite being a German professor, occasionally taught comedy. During his 11 years as Dean of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame, where he juggled many obligations, he added higher education as a fourth area of teaching and scholarship.

Along with his German courses, Roche teaches broader humanities courses, including the two-semester Honors Humanities Seminar, which explores great works of literature and culture from Homer to Tretheway. In 2013 Roche received the Joyce Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and in 2006 the Kaneb Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Roche is the author of 11 books, including Why Choose the Liberal Arts?, 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, which was chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine. Roche’s current research is on theories of ugliness, a topic that has deep connections to Christianity and to comedy.

Representative Publications and Accomplishments

Beautiful Ugliness: Christianity, Modernity, and the Arts.  Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2023.

Realizing the Distinctive University: Vision and Values, Strategy and CultureNotre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2017. 

Why Choose the Liberal Arts? Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010.

Why Literature Matters in the 21st CenturyNew Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004. 

Tragedy and Comedy: A Systematic Study and a Critique of Hegel. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998.