Lucaites is among the most influential scholars involved in the emergence of visual rhetoric as a new field of study. He has received numerous awards, including the National Communication Association's Distinguished Scholar Award and Douglas W. Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award.
His 2007 book "No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy," written with Robert Hariman, argues that iconic photographs can serve as resources to right the imbalance between liberalism and democracy. The book earned numerous awards and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He is also the co-author of "The Public Image: Photography and Civic Spectatorship" (forthcoming, 2016) and "Crafting Equality: America's Anglo-African Word." He also co-hosts the blog No Caption Needed, which focuses on the relationship between photojournalism and public culture.
Lucaites proposed and chaired the 2010-11 College of Arts and Sciences Themester program, "Making War, Making Peace." He has directed 26 dissertations to completion, chairs six dissertation committees and serves on another eight. More than 22 of his former students hold tenured or tenure-track faculty positions, and they have produced 13 books and won major national awards.