Joseph Roach appointed Sterling Professor of Theater

Joseph Roach, the newly named Sterling Professor of Theater, specializes in the history and theory of theater and dramatic literature. 

The Sterling Professorship is the highest honor bestowed on Yale faculty.

Also a professor of English and African-American studies, Roach has been a major force in developing the field of performance studies. In 2006, he won a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create Yale’s research program in “World Performance.” He was invited to deliver the University’s 2007 public DeVane Lectures on that same topic. The DeVane Lectures featured study of the impact of the performing arts as well as music, dance and theater performances.

Roach’s most recent book is titled “It,” a study of charismatic celebrity. His other books include “Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance,” which won the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the Calloway Prize from New York University, and “The Player’s Passion: Studies in the Science of Acting,” which won the Barnard Hewitt Award in Theater History. His essays have appeared in Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, The Drama Review, Theatre History Studies, Discourse, Theater, Text and Performance Quarterly and others.

Roach holds a B.A. from the University of Kansas, an M.A. from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. He taught at the State University of New York-Albany, Sweet Briar College, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University and Tulane University before joining the Yale faculty as the Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of Theater and professor of English and African-American studies in 1997. At Yale, Roach has served as director of graduate studies in English and chair of the Theater Studies Program. He is a fellow of the Whitney Humanities Center.

Roach has directed over 40 plays at various venues and has been a mentor in two Yale College Playwrights’ Festivals. Earlier in his career he was the co-founder and director of the Albany Opera Workshop and a founding member of Creede Colorado Repertory Theatre. He has been an invited lecturer at universities, libraries, galleries and other institutions throughout the United States and in Ireland and Japan.

The Yale professor has served as the associate editor of Theatre Journal and on the editorial boards of Theatre Survey and Text and Performance Quarterly.

Roach’s many honors include a Senior Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a Lifetime Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society for Theatre Research.

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