Faculty & Staff

Melody Lehn

Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Women’s and Gender Studies, Assistant Director of the Center for Speaking & Listening
B.A., Furman University; M.A., University of Memphis; Ph.D., University of Memphis


Melody Lehn is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Women’s and Gender Studies at Sewanee: The University of the South, where she also serves as the Assistant Director of the Center for Speaking & Listening. Professor Lehn earned her B.A. in Communication Studies with a concentration in Women’s and Gender Studies at Furman University. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication with emphases in rhetoric and public address at the University of Memphis, where she was awarded the 2013 Morton Dissertation Award. 

As a student and teacher of public address, Professor Lehn is committed to investigating the ways that rhetoric imagines and sustains our democratic practices and communities. Prior to coming to Sewanee in Fall 2017, she was Assistant Professor of Speech Communication and Affiliate Women’s and Gender Studies faculty at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. At USC, she taught speech and rhetoric courses across the university system and in the Honors College, while also serving as the faculty adviser and Speech and Skills Coach for the USC mock trial program. At Sewanee, she teaches courses in public speaking and rhetoric. 

Professor Lehn researches and writes at the intersection of rhetoric, politics, and gender, with an interest in the public addresses of American women and, particularly, the rhetorical activities of U.S. first ladies. She has presented nearly thirty research papers at state, regional, national, and international conferences, and has published journal articles and book chapters on Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, Ann Romney, and Hillary Clinton. In 2011, she co-edited Rhetoric: Concord and Controversy with Antonio de Velasco. Her current research project on first ladies and international diplomacy relies on archival research conducted at the Johnson, Nixon, and Carter Presidential Libraries, as well as the archives of Churchill College in Cambridge, U.K. Most recently, she was awarded the Ray Camp Research Prize by the Carolinas Communication Association in 2016. 

An active member of the profession, Professor Lehn is the current editor of the Carolinas Communication Annual, the current secretary of the Public Address Division of the Southern States Communication Association, and Past Chair of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric Interest Group of the Southern States Communication Association.