Faculty Profiles

Theon Hill Headshot

Theon Hill, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Communication

On Faculty since 2014
BGH 270

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.

Wheaton College TowerTalks | Dr. Theon Hill | Speaking Truth to Power


Finding Hope in Unhopeful Times: 1 Kings 17:8-24 (3/15/2017)

Purdue University
Ph.D., Communication, 2013

  • African American Rhetoric
  • Race & Ethnicity
  • The Obama Presidency
  • Political Rhetoric
  • Rap & Hip-Hop Culture
  • National Communication Association : Member
  • Rhetoric Society of America : Member

The Positives of Diversity
Chris Fabry Live online
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?

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) online
January-March Issue, 2017
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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 online
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.

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 online
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).

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 online
"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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Recovering the Prophetic Voice of Black Preaching 
Religious Communication Association, Salt Lake City, 2018.

The Rhetorical Theology of James Baldwin
Rhetoric Society of America, Minneapolis, 2018.

The Priority of (In)civility in an Age of Social Unrest
National Communication Association’s (NCA) Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division, Dallas, 2017.

The Gifts of Black Folk in a Post-Truth Society
National Communication Association’s (NCA) Organizational Communication Division, Dallas, 2017.

The Prophetic Hope of James Baldwin
National Communication Association’s (NCA) Public Address Division, Philadelphia, 2016.

Race-ing Burkean Rhetoric, Kenneth Burke, Racial Conflict, and the Desire for Transcendence
Kenneth Burke Society, Philadelphia, 2016.

  • Communication Criticism
  • Engaging Hip-Hop Culture
  • The Rhetoric of Equality
  • Political Style
  • Advanced Public Speaking

Sanitizing the Struggle: Obama, Selma, and Civil Rights Memory, Communication Quarterly
Hill, T. E., 2017
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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., 2016
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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., 2016
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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., 2014

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., 2014
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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. 2011

Engaging cultural narratives of the ethnic restaurant: Discursive practices of hybridity, authenticity, and commoditization, Studies in Symbolic Interaction 
lair, R. P., Holyoak, I., Hill, T. E., Rajan, P., Angeli, L. L., Carrion, M. L., Dillard, S., Kumar, R., Sastry, S., 2011
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Book Reviews

Prison Power: How Prison Influenced the Movement for Black Liberation,  Quarterly Journal of Speech
Hill, T. E., 2018
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The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition, Rhetoric & Public Affairs
Hill, T. E., 2015
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Speaking Truth to Power

In this TowerTalk, Dr. Theon Hill considers how the prophets equip us with the rhetorical insight to meet the moral and spiritual challenges of contemporary American society.


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