Robert Schmuhl received his bachelor's degree from Notre Dame in 1970 and a doctorate (in English and American Studies) from Indiana University in 1978. He joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1980, teaching at the University of Notre Dame of Australia in 1997, serving as the inaugural Naughton Distinguished Visiting Professor at University College Dublin in 2000, and being Visiting Professor of Media Ethics at St. Augustine College of South Africa in 2003. During the 2004 Spring Semester, he was on the faculty of Notre Dame’s London Centre, and in 2009 he was the first John Hume Visiting Research Fellow at University College Dublin. In 2004, he received a Kaneb Teaching Award from Notre Dame, and in 2010 he won the Frank O’Malley Undergraduate Teaching Award, the only University-wide, student-selected honor given for teaching at Notre Dame.
Schmuhl is the author or editor of eleven books, including Statecraft and Stagecraft: American Political Life in the Age of Personality (1990 and 1992), Demanding Democracy (1994), Thomas Jefferson: America's Philosopher-King (1996) and Wounded Titans: American Presidents and the Perils of Power (1996). His edited volume, The Responsibilities of Journalism, has been published in four foreign editions. Indecent Liberties came out in 2000 and was selected by the Chicago Tribune Books section as one of 40 noteworthy nonfiction titles for that year. His collection of essays, In So Many Words: Arguments and Adventures, was published in 2006, with a new, expanded edition, In So Many More Words appearing, appearing in 2010. This edition was a finalist for the Book of the Year Award for essays, sponsored by ForeWord Reviews. Another edited volume, Making Words Dance: Reflections on Red Smith, Journalism, and Writing, also came out in 2010 from Andrews McMeel Publishing.
His academic articles have been published in several books and in such journals as SOCIETY, Critical Studies in Mass -Communication, The Review of Politics, Issues of Democracy, and Style. In 1983 he received a Clarion Award for directing a conference at Notre Dame on the responsibilities of journalism, and in 1996 he was named a participant in the U.S. Department of Education's "Democracy at Risk" project. He served as a member of the Institutions of American Democracy Commission on the Press, established in 2003 by the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, and he is the lead author of the essay “The Marketplace of Ideas” in the Commission’s volume, titled The Press, which was published by Oxford University Press in the spring of 2005.
A frequent contributor to popular publications, Schmuhl’s columns, features, and reviews have appeared in the The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA TODAY, The Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, Commonweal, American Journalism Review, The Quill, and many other newspapers and magazines. He has appeared on CBS, CNN, PBS, NPR, the Voice of America, the BBC, Sky News, and several other television and radio programs in the U.S. and abroad.