ICR emeritus professor and renowned scholar Norman Denzin passes away at 82

Norman DenzinNorman Denzin, research professor emeritus of communications at the Institute of Communications Research, professor emeritus of media and cinema studies, and professor emeritus of sociology and humanities at the University of Illinois, passed away on August 6 at the age of 82.

Denzin was one of the world’s foremost authorities on qualitative research and cultural criticism, and a renowned figure in symbolic interactionist theory. 

A writer, scholar, teacher, and visionary, Denzin was also a mentor to many generations of students, faculty, and staff at the College of Media, especially within ICR. 

Professor CL Cole, the head of the Department of Media & Cinema Studies, co-authored a special issue on Denzin for the Journal of Sport and Social Issues in 2006 with Robert E. Rinehart, one of Denzin’s former students at UIUC. 

In it they wrote: “It is impossible to list all of his contributions or to fully express how his work has positively affected countless others. It is impossible to detail how his prolific writing, his creative vision and fresh ways of thinking have created a sea-change in those who have encountered them, struggled with them, incorporated them. It is also impossible to recount how his charming, easy-going affability, and generosity of spirit have lent themselves to mentees, friends, colleagues, students.”

Denzin was affiliated with several units on campus, including the Department of Sociology, Center for Global Studies, and Women and Gender in Global Perspectives.

He began in the sociology department in the early 1980s and joined ICR a decade later. He was also active in the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. In 2005, he founded the annual International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry conference, hosted by the International Center for Qualitative Inquiry, from which a series of journals were produced. 

Denzin was the author, co-author, or co-editor of more than 50 books and 200 professional articles and chapters and was still actively authoring and co-authoring papers as recently as last year.

He was awarded the prestigious Charles H. Cooley Award for his book, The Alcoholic Self, and the George Herbert Mead Award for lifetime contributions to the study of human interaction, both from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. 

Learn more about Denzin’s accomplishments.

A tribute wall for Denzin has been created by Renner-Wikoff Chapel & Crematory.