Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Women’s and Gender Studies
Co-Director of the Center for Speaking & Listening
Program Director, SUMMA Theological Debate Camp
B.A., Furman University; M.A., University of Memphis; Ph.D., University of Memphis


Dr. Melody Lehn joined the faculty of The University of the South in Fall 2017. Her academic training is in rhetorical studies, with an emphasis in public address, rhetorical criticism, and rhetorical pedagogy. As a student and teacher of public address, Dr. Lehn is committed to investigating the ways that rhetoric imagines and sustains our democratic practices and communities. She currently serves as Co-Director of the Center for Speaking & Listening and the Program Director of the SUMMA Theological Debate Camp for High School students. From 2017 to 2020, she co-directed the university-wide Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) "Learning to Speak, Speaking to Learn" with Dr. Sean Patrick O'Rourke.


An award-winning teacher, Dr. Lehn teaches courses in the Rhetoric Program, several of which are cross-listed with American Studies and Women's and Gender Studies. Undergraduate research is central to her pedagogy, and several of her students have presented competitively-accepted papers at the Theodore Clevenger Undergraduate Honors Conference.

Courses taught
  • RHET 101: Public Speaking
  • RHET 110: Argumentation & Debate
  • RHET 220: Teaching Speaking & Listening (team-taught)
  • RHET 311: U.S. Public Address I: 1620-1865
  • RHET 331: Voices of American Women
  • RHET 341: Rhetoric of Mass and Social Media
  • RHET 440: Directed Research and Writing
  • RHET 444: Independent Study
  • WMST 400: Senior Seminar in Women's & Gender Studies
teaching Awards
  • College Excellence in Teaching Award, The University of the South, 2019. 

  • Dwight L. Freshley Early Career Excellence in Teaching Award, Southern States Communication Association, 2018.
  • John Angus Campbell Award for Excellence in Teaching, Ph.D. Level, University of Memphis, 2012.


Dr. Lehn researches and writes at the intersection of rhetoric, politics, and gender, with an interest in the public discourse of American women. She has presented more than thirty research papers at meetings of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric; the Rhetoric Society of Europe; the Rhetoric Society of America; the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender; the National Communication Association, and the Southern States Communication Association. She is past journal editor (2016-2018) of the Carolinas Communication Annual, Past Chair of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric Interest Group of the Southern States Communication Association, and on the Editorial Board for the journal Women & Language.

  • One Hundred Years of Women Debating the Equal Rights Amendment, An Anthology: 1923-2023, first editor with Camille K. Lewis, under contract and forthcoming with Peter Lang International Publishers, 2024.
  • Was Blind but Now I See: Rhetoric, Race, Religion, and the Charleston Shootings, second editor with Sean Patrick O'Rourke (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019). Purchase here.
  • Rhetoric: Concord and Controversy, second editor with Antonio de Velasco (Waveland Press, 2011).
Select Articles, Chapters, and Reviews
  • "'Mrs. Nixon's Goodwill Mission': The Great Peruvian Earthquake, Rhetorical History, and the Art of Personal Diplomacy," Presidential Studies Quarterly 52, no. 2 (June 2022): 290-312.
  • "Knowledge, Rhetorical History, and Undergraduate Scholars: Reimagining Liberal Education," with Sean Patrick O'Rourke (first author), in Reframing Rhetorical History: Cases, Theories, and Methodologies, eds. Kathleen J. Turner and Jason Edward Black (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2022), 341-58.
  • "Liminal Protest: Eleanor Roosevelt's 'Sit-Between' at the 1938 Southern Conference for Human Welfare," in Like Wildfire: The Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Sit-Ins, eds. Sean Patrick O'Rourke and Lesli K. Pace (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2020), 17-34.
  • "Challenging the Myth of Post-Racialism: Exhortation, Strategic Ambiguity, and Michelle Obama's Response to the Charleston Killings," in Was Blind but Now I See: Rhetoric, Race, Religion, and the Charleston Shootings, eds. Sean Patrick O'Rourke and Melody Lehn (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2020), 127-50.
  • Review of Persuasive Acts: Women's Rhetorics in the Twenty-First Century, eds. Shari J. Stenberg and Charlotte Hogg (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), Women & Language 43, no. 2 (Fall 2020): 299-303.
  • "Making a Case for Textual Criticism: Hillary Studies and the State of Political Campaign Communication Scholarship," in Political Campaign Communication: Theory, Method, and Practice, ed. Robert E. Denton, Jr. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017), 169-88.
  • "First Ladies and Presidential Advising: Ann Romney, Hilary Rosen, and the 2012 Presidential Campaign," in Studies of Communication in the 2012 Presidential Campaign, ed. Robert E. Denton, Jr. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014), 95-110.
  • "Strong Frontrunner, Weak Woman: Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Politics of Pile On," in Venomous Speech: Problems with American Political Discourse on the Right and Left, Vol. 2, ed. Clarke Rountree (Santa Barbara, California: Praeger, 2013), 223-36.
  • "Jackie Joins Twitter: The Re-Circulation of 'Campaign Wife,'" Rhetoric & Public Affairs 15 (2012): 667-74.
Select Research Awards
  • Ray Camp Prize for Outstanding Faculty Research, Carolinas Communication Association Convention, 2016.
  • Morton Dissertation Award, The University of Memphis, 2013.
select University committees and Service 
  • Leaves Committee (2023-2028) [College Faculty Committee]
  • Library and Information Technology Services Committee (2023-2028) [Joint Faculties Committee]
  • Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell Interview Committee (2017-present) [College Faculty Committee]