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Theon Hill, Ph.D. - Wheaton College. Wheaton, IL, US

Theon Hill, Ph.D. Theon Hill, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Communication | Wheaton College


Dr. Hill examines the role of radical rhetoric as a crucial form of civic engagement and public advocacy.



Theon Hill, Ph.D. Publication Theon Hill, Ph.D. Publication




Theon Hill | Rhetoric and Social Justice Millennial Leader - Podcast 06: Theon Hill Theon Hill Wheaton College TowerTalks | Dr. Theon Hill |  Speaking Truth to Power Reflecting on Ferguson




Dr. Hill's research explores the relationship between rhetoric and social change related to race, culture and American politics. Specifically, he examines the role of radical rhetoric as a crucial form of civic engagement and public advocacy. His previous work on rhetoric and social change in political, social movement, and religious contexts has appeared in edited collections and scholarly journals.

Education (4)

Purdue University: Ph.D., Communication 2013

Copenhagen Business School: Graduate Certificate, Organization Communication and Leadership 2011

Bob Jones University: M.A., Rhetoric and Public Address 2009

Bob Jones University: B.A., Biblical Studies

Areas of Expertise and Research Interests (14)

Political Rhetoric Race Ethnicity The Obama Presidency Public Speaking Social Movements Messages Influence and Culture Leadership Development Hip-Hop Culture American Fundamentalism Rhetoric Popular Culture Public Memory

Accomplishments and Awards (4)

Junior Faculty Achievement Award, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL (professional)


H. H. Remmers Memorial Award (professional)


Each year the African American Studies and Research Center at Purdue University recognizes an outstanding African American PhD student for excellence in research, academics, professional development, and leadership potential.

Bruce Kendall Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student (professional)


This highly competitive award is presented annually to an outstanding graduate instructor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication for excellence in teaching, departmental service, and research as determined by the school's faculty.

3 Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition, First Place (professional)


Purdue University’s Graduate School held a three minute thesis competition in which graduate students were challenged to present their research in three minutes to a lay audience. I placed first out of 84 graduate students from all disciplines across campus.

Professional Affiliations (2)

  • National Communication Association : Member
  • Rhetoric Society of America : Member

Media Appearances (19)

The Positives of Diversity

Chris Fabry Live  radio


You hear a lot about diversity in our culture these days. Many are urging us to make our churches, our workplaces and our communities more diverse. What are the positives of diversity? Why should we push for it?

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The Centuries-Old Habits of the Heart

Christianity Today  online


The tragic events in Charlottesville have captivated the attention of the nation, plunging us, yet again, into another period of deep soul-searching over our anguished racial history. President Donald Trump drew criticism from both sides of the aisle for his reluctance to condemn white nationalism specifically in his initial remarks.

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Melvin Banks had a Dream

Christianity Today  online


His name may not be familiar to those outside Christian publishing, but few have impacted the church as much as Melvin E. Banks Sr., the founder and chairman of Urban Ministries Inc. (UMI).

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Kate Shellnutt, "Should Churches Keep Their Civil War Landmarks"

Christianity Today  online


“The primary question for the church to consider is not what to remember but how we remember it,” said Theon Hill, a Wheaton College communications professor. Hill remembers the culture shock—and crisis of faith—that accompanied his undergraduate years at Bob Jones University, where he watched classmates embrace and defend Confederate heritage.

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What Would Jesus Say about Confederate Symbols

The Front Porch  online


As a Christian, I’m interested in the influence of faith on this debate, especially considering that the majority of Confederate symbols are located in the South which ranks as the most religious region in the nation.

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Remembering James Baldwin

Faithfully Magazine (inaugural issue)  print

January-March Issue, 2017

Episode 241: Race! Religion! Trump! w/Theon Hill

The Phil Vischer Podcast  online


Why do black and white evangelicals see the world so differently? Race and religion in the age of Trump, with professor Theon Hill.

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Rhetoric and Preaching the Gospel

Theology for Life Podcast, Episode 12  online


What is the role of rhetoric in the public square and in enacting justice? Hill explains that rhetoric shapes our identity. How we describe and term things in our world helps shape that around us and how people see the possibilities.

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Remembering James Baldwin

The Front Porch  online


On February 3, 2017, Raoul Peck’s critically acclaimed documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” will debut in theaters across the nation, introducing a new generation to the prophetic voice of James Baldwin. The film considers American race relations through the lens of Baldwin’s unfinished novel “Remember This House.”

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Racial Reconciliation

Brian and Kathleen Mornings (interview), Moody Radio, Cleveland  radio

The United States has a long and painful history with racism. Dr. Theon Hill from Wheaton College joins Brian and Kathleen to discuss how he believes that we can begin to make steps towards solving this difficult and complex issue.

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Are Trump’s White Evangelical Supporters Racist

Quick to Listen Podcast, Episode 36 (podcast interview), Christianity Today  online


Theon Hill joins CT editors to discuss the evolution of the word “racist,” where gentleness belongs in this discussion, and how the issue of race affects evangelicals’ legitimacy in the public square.

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The Church at its Racial Turning Point

Christianity Today  online


Five ways forward after the recent tragic events.

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Looking Back and Looking Forward (includes an interview with Dr. Theon E. Hill)

Vocalo’s The Barber Shop Show  radio


On this week's show we heard from Dr. Theon Hill, a communications prof who specializes in race, rhetoric, speechwriting, and the speeches of Obama and MLK, about the significance of eulogies, including President Obama’s eulogy for Sen. Clementa Pinckney (pastor of Emmanuel AME).

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MLK Day speaker to give 'practical tips' on carrying out King's work

Daily Herald  online


Theon Hill sat transfixed in his college dorm room, watching a video that grabbed hold of the teen in a way that "nothing else has."

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Episode 133: Addressing Systemic Racism w/Theon Hill

The Phil Vischer Podcast  online


Phil and Skye are joined by guest Theon Hill to discuss the church’s role in addressing systemic racism in a post-Ferguson America.

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Evangelical Colleges: Unlikely Allies in #BlackLivesMatter

The Atlantic  online


Whether the college years actually make students more liberal is still an issue up for debate, but it would seem that many Christian colleges are creating space for their students to have difficult conversations about political issues that they often avoided in the past. A Christian college experience may lend itself to thinking about empathy and justice in ways that are new to some students. "The role of the Christian college at a time like this is to teach, to educate our students to think Biblically about the world in which they live," said Theon Hill, a communications instructor at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Christian colleges have always paid special attention to shaping the character of their students, but conversations around issues of race are new for many.

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Evangelical Colleges: Unlikely Allies in #BlackLivesMatter

The Atlantic  


"The role of the Christian college at a time like this is to teach, to educate our students to think Biblically about the world in which they live," said Theon Hill, a communications instructor at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.

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Wheaton College students protest in wake of Ferguson decision

Chicago Tribune  online


Wheaton College Professor Theon Hill also joined the protesters before leaving early to teach his class.

"I think it's important for us — the church — to start talking about systemic racism in society," Hill said. "This has been going on far too long."

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Quad staff interviews communication studies professor Dr. Theon Hill

The Quad  online


Dr. Theon Hill is a first year communication studies professor here at the university. Dr. Hill finished his doctorate program at Purdue earlier this year and specializes in the study of Rhetoric. Dr. Hill was born and raised in Chicago, and is a diehard Chicago sports fan...

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Presentations and Event Appearances (10)

The Rhetorical Theology of James Baldwin

Rhetoric Society of America  Minneapolis, 2018

The Gifts of Black Folk in a Post-Truth Society

National Communication Association’s (NCA) Organizational Communication Division  Dallas, 2017

The Priority of (In)civility in an Age of Social Unrest

National Communication Association’s (NCA) Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division  Dallas, 2017

The Prophetic Hope of James Baldwin

National Communication Association’s (NCA) Public Address Division  Philadelphia, 2016

The Social Responsibility of the Sermon: Reflections on Blue Note Preaching

Religious Communication Association Pre-Conference  Philadelphia, 2016

Race-ing Burkean Rhetoric, Kenneth Burke, Racial Conflict, and the Desire for Transcendence

Kenneth Burke Society  Philadelphia, 2016

Subverting White Supremacy: The Rhetorical Utility of the Negro Spiritual

Rhetoric Society of America Biennial Conference  Atlanta, 2016

Cornel West, John Dewey, and rhetorical approaches to American pragmatism

National Communication Association  Washington, D.C., November 2013

Jesus is integrated: Root-metaphors of Civil Rights Movement rhetoric

National Communication Association  Orlando, FL, November 2012

Prophet as cultural critic: The prophetic tradition in rhetorical theory

National Communication Association  Orlando, FL, November 2012

Academics and Published Research (1)

Courses Taught

The Rhetoric of Equality
Political Style
The Rhetoric of Rap Music
Radical Rhetoric & Democracy
Communication Criticism
Advanced Performance
Engaging Hip-Hop Culture
Fundamentals of Oral Communication

Select Articles, Chapters, Reviews, and Other Publications (10)

Sanitizing the Struggle: Obama, Selma, and Civil Rights Memory Communication Quarterly

Hill, T. E.


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(Re)articulating difference: Constitutive rhetoric, Christian identity, and discourses of race as biology Journal of Communication and Religion

Hill, T. E.


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The Exodus: The Textual Heart of American Civil Religion The Rhetoric of Civil Religion: Saints, Sinners, and Symbols

Hill, T. E.


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From tragedy to comedy: A pentadic analysis contrasting Hillary Clinton’s health care reform rhetoric from 1993-1994 and the 2008 Presidential campaign Transcendence by perspective: Meditations on and with Kenneth Burke

Hill, T. E.


Preserving black political agency in the age of Obama: Utilizing the C-SPAN archives in rhetorical scholarship The C-SPAN archives: An interdisciplinary resource for discovery, learning, and engagement

Hill, T. E.


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Dialoguing difference in joint ethnographic research: Reflections on religion, sexuality, and race Cultural StudiesCritical Methodologies

Hill, T. E., & Holyoak, I. C.

11(2): 187-194.

Engaging cultural narratives of the ethnic restaurant: Discursive practices of hybridity, authenticity, and commoditization Studies in Symbolic Interaction

Clair, R. P., Holyoak, I., Hill, T. E., Rajan, P., Angeli, L. L., Carrion, M. L., Dillard, S., Kumar, R., Sastry, S.


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BOOK REVIEWS -----------------------------


Prison Power: How Prison Influenced the Movement for Black Liberation Quarterly Journal of Speech

Hill, T. E.


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The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition Rhetoric & Public Affairs

Hill, T. E.


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