John M Murphy

 John Murphy

Contact Information

3001 Lincoln Hall, MC-456
702 S Wright Street
Urbana IL 61801
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Research Interests

  • Rhetoric of the US presidency and contemporary politics; presidential war rhetoric and campaign speeches.

Research Description

John Murphy studies the history of American Public Address and political rhetoric. He's interested in just how political languages collide and influence each other over the course of U.S. history. He's written on John and Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King. Jr., George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. His scholarly work has appeared in journals such as Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Quarterly Journal of Speech, and American Literary History. His commentary on the presidency, presidential speechmaking, and rhetoric regularly appears  in popular media outlets such as the Washington Post, the New York Times, WGN, and USA Today. He is currently finishing a book project on the presidential speeches of John F. Kennedy and the American liberal tradition.


  • Ph.D., University of Kansas

Distinctions / Awards

  • 2015 Campus Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award
  • 2015 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award
  • 2004 National Communication Assocation Golden Monograph Award


  • CMN 321: Strategies of Persuasion
  • CMN 396: Rhetoric and the Presidency
  • CMN 423: Rhetorical Criticism
  • CMN 538: Graduate Seminar in Rhetoric

In The News

  • Franklin Roosevelt’s first inaugural gave us “nothing to fear but fear itself.” John F. Kennedy’s gave us “ask not what your country can do for you …” But those are among the few inaugurals long-remembered in history. So how important are these speeches in setting a tone or direction that carries through?