There’s no question that Communication scholar Larry Gross is one of the greats in his field. In the 1970s and 80s, he was co-Principal Investigator for the groundbreaking Cultural Indicators Project, led by former Annenberg Dean George Gerbner. He has authored or edited 10 books, including Up from Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America (Columbia University Press 2001), which is considered a seminal work in the field of LGBTQ studies. He has served in editorial capacities for 19 journals. He is a Past President and a Fellow of the International Communication Association.
And, just as importantly, he is beloved by the countless students he has mentored during his 50 year career.
In that spirit, The Inclusive Vision: Essays in Honor of Larry Gross (Peter Lang, 2018), edited by Professor Emeritus Paul Messaris and alumnus David W. Park, is a Festschrift dedicated to Gross, who served on the faculty at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania for 35 years, from 1968 to 2003. Since 2003, he has been on the faculty of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California.
A German word literally meaning “writing celebration,” a Festschrift is a collection of writings honoring a respected academic. The book is usually written by colleagues and former students and published during the honoree’s lifetime.
Each of the 17 essays included in The Inclusive Vision was written by a former student, and Messaris — both a former student and later a colleague of Gross — penned the introduction.
“Few people have had as much impact on the field of communication studies as Larry Gross has had,” writes Messaris. “We hope the book is an adequate expression of the depth of our gratitude.”
Paul Messaris, Larry Gross, and Robert C. Hornik
The Inclusive Vision is divided into three parts: On the Margins of the Art Worlds, Culture & Power, and Towards Inclusion. Each part is devoted to an area of study in which Gross has made his most significant scholarly contributions.
Gross, writes Messaris, “was a prominent member of the generation that founded visual studies as a graduate research discipline within the field of communication. He was a principal investigator in the Cultural Indicators Project, which, in its time, was perhaps the most influential investigation of the cultural ramifications of the mass media. He was, and remains, one of the most eloquent, illuminating, and productive commentators on the media’s portrayal of sexual and other minorities.”
During his time at the Annenberg School, Gross was the primary advisor on more than 180 masters theses and doctoral dissertations. This remains the record for any Annenberg faculty member, and his commitment to mentoring young academics is rivaled by few.
Of the essays included in The Inclusive Vision, 14 are written by Annenberg alumni who studied under Gross during his tenure at Penn, including: Derek Bousé (M.A.C. ’89, Ph.D. ’91), David Gudelunas (M.A.C. ’01, Ph.D. ’04), Lisa Henderson (M.A.C. ’83, Ph.D. ’90), Stewart M. Hoover (M.A.C. ’81, Ph.D. ’85), Eva Illouz (Ph.D. ’91), Steven Leuthold (Ph.D. ’92), Bill Mikulak (M.A.C. ’87, Ph.D. ’96), Michael Morgan (M.A.C. ’77, Ph.D. ’80), David W. Park (M.A.C. ’96, Ph.D. ’01), Carla Sarett (M.A.C. ’78, Ph.D. ’81), Dona Schwartz (C’77, M.A.C. ’78, Ph.D. '83), Lois H. Silverman (M.A.C. ’84, Ph.D. ’90), Cindy Hing-Yuk Wong (Ph.D. ’97), and Annenberg Professor Barbie Zelizer (Ph.D. ’90).
Barbie Zelizer and Larry Gross
In 2003, Gross become the Director for the School of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. He held that position until 2014, and he remains a professor at USC. In addition, he is the principal editor of the International Journal of Communication.
“No media scholar whom I know of has been as effective as Larry Gross in the use of superb research skills for the attainment of vitally important social goals,” said Messaris. “His academic career has been exemplary and inspiring. We, his students, and everyone else who has worked with him are fortunate indeed.”
The Inclusive Vision is part of a series entitled A Critical Introduction to Media and Communication Theory, edited by David W. Park and published by Peter Lang.