Melanie R. Hill

Melanie R. Hill


mrh197 [at]

Melanie R. Hill is Assistant Professor of American Literature in the Department of English at Rutgers University, Newark. Dr. Hill received her Ph.D. in English Literature with two graduate certificates in Africana Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a second Master’s degree in Literature from George Mason University, and a B.A. in English with a minor in Spanish from the University of Virginia. As her research focuses on the intersection of literature and music, Dr. Hill has written articles on black feminism and the sermon as sonic art in James Baldwin’s "The Amen Corner", as well as Bessie Smith and Ella Fitzgerald under the Religions Journal and Oxford University Press, respectively. Under contract with the University of North Carolina Press (UNC Press), her forthcoming 

manuscript entitled, "Colored Women Sittin’ on High: Womanist Sermonic Practice in Literature and Music" focuses on the ways in which black women preachers in African American literature, music, and in the space of the pulpit counter social injustices through sermon and song.

In addition to her scholarship, Hill is a Gospel Soul violinist who has performed at the White House on two occasions under the Obama administration, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the NAACP’s Annual Convention, the Apollo Theater in New York, the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and other venues. She was featured on the syndicated talk show, Sister Circle Live on TV One and has performed for Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple. She is a multi-time, first-place winner at the Apollo Theater in New York and has been featured as a guest on Showtime at the Apollo, The Quincy Harris Show, Good Day Philadelphia, NBC 10, Philadelphia Style magazine, NY1, BET, and TV One. In addition, she’s performed the National Anthem on her violin for the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. Dr. Hill has also performed for Ms. Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, opened for John Legend, and for Pope Francis’s Papal Mass during his historic visit to the United States. In 2020, Hill was invited to perform and share her scholarship at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Courses Taught

  • African American Literature since 1900
  • Nineteenth-Century American Literature
  • Womanifesto: Black Women Writers in Literature and Music
  • Morrison & Music
  • Black Women’s Autobiographies
  • Contemporary Black Women Preachers in Literature and Music

Research Initiatives

​Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-First Century African American Literature, Music, Performance Studies, Sound Studies, Africana Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Religious Studies, Poetry and Poetics



Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

A.M., University of Pennsylvania

M.A. George Mason University

B.A. University of Virginia

Associated Programs


African American Studies

Women and Gender Studies