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The Inclusive Vision

Essays in Honor of Larry Gross

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Edited By Paul Messaris and David W. Park

Larry Gross is one of the most influential figures in the history of media studies. In this collection of original essays, his former students reflect on his groundbreaking contributions to three major developments: the emergence of visual studies as a distinct field of media theory and research; the analysis of media fiction as a symbol of power structures and a perpetuator of social inequalities; and the growing scholarly attention to the relationships between mass media and sexual minorities.

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16. The Longest Walk Is the Walk Home: The Theme of Return in Indigenous Cinema (Steven Leuthold)

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16. The Longest Walk Is the Walk Home: The Theme of Return in Indigenous Cinema

STEVEN LEUTHOLD

In 1968, when Larry Gross first joined the faculty of the Annenberg School, he met the filmmaker and scholar Sol Worth, who had recently engaged in field work with the Navajo. This fortuitous meeting sparked the collaborative development of the fields of visual communication studies and visual anthropology by Worth, Gross, Jay Ruby, Paul Messaris and other important scholars. As a doctoral student at Annenberg in the early 1990s, I was eager to delve into back issues of Studies in the Anthropology of Visual Communication (later renamed Studies in Visual Communication), a journal that Larry took over editing after Sol’s death. When choosing a dissertation topic, this exciting strain of research, which Larry had helped so much to develop, influenced me to consider the expanding world of indigenous media (Leuthold, 1998). In this essay that celebrates Larry’s career as a scholar, I return to the emphasis on film and Native culture that had a formative impact in visual communication studies.

One of the observations by Worth and Adair in their seminal Through Navajo Eyes (1997) was the prevalence of sequences featuring walking in films made by the Navajo. The scholars stated “… it took us some time to see how deeply the concept of walking was embedded in their way of seeing and of showing the world, and how deliberately they...

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