Russel B. Nye

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Russel Blaine Nye
Born(1913-02-17)February 17, 1913
DiedSeptember 2, 1993(1993-09-02) (aged 80)
Alma materOberlin College
University of Wisconsin
AwardsPulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography (1945)
Scientific career
FieldsEnglish and American Culture
InstitutionsMichigan State University

Russel Blaine Nye (February 17, 1913 – September 2, 1993[1]) was an American professor of English who in the 1960s pioneered Popular Culture Theory. He is the author of a dozen books. His book George Bancroft: Brahmin Rebel won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

Born in Viola, Wisconsin, Nye received his bachelor's degree from Oberlin College in 1934 and his master's degree from the University of Wisconsin in English the following year. In 1938 he married Kathryn Chaney, and in 1940 he completed his doctorate on George Bancroft again at the University of Wisconsin.[2] Nye taught in the English department at Michigan State University from 1941 to 1979.[3]

In 1957 after the director of the Detroit Public Library claimed that Frank L. Baum's novel The Wizard of Oz had no value and shouldn't be stocked by libraries, Nye and Martin Gardner published a new critical edition of the novel bringing out its value, causing a firestorm of controversy, followed by eventual acceptance.

In 1970 he co-founded the Popular Culture Association with Ray B. Browne and Marshall Fishwick, working to shape a new academic discipline called Popular Culture Theory that blurred the traditional distinctions between high and low culture, focusing on mass culture mediums like television and the Internet, and cultural archetypes like comic book heroes.

He died in Lansing, Michigan in 1993.


  • Russel B. Nye, The Mind and Art of George Bancroft (1939)[4]
  • Russel B. Nye, George Bancroft: Brahmin Rebel (1944)[5]
  • Russel B. Nye, Fettered Freedom: Civil Liberties and the Slavery Controversy 1830-1860 (1948) Michigan State University Press
  • Russel B. Nye and Jack Eric Morpurgo, A History of the United States. Volume Two: The Growth of the U.S.A. (1955; Third Edition 1970) Penguin Books
  • Russel B. Nye and Martin Gardner, The Wizard of Oz and Who He Was (1957)[6]
  • Russel B. Nye and Ray Broadus Browne, Crises on Campus (1971)[7]
  • Russel B. Nye and Arra M. Garab, Modern Essays (1971)[8]
  • Harold E. Hinds et al. (eds.), Popular Culture Theory and Methodology: A Basic Introduction, 2006[9]
  • Joseph G. Waldmeir, Essays in Honor of Russel B. Nye (1978)[10]


  1. ^ "Russel B Nye". Social Security Death Index. New England Historic Genealogical Society. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
  2. ^ "Russel B(laine) Nye - 1913-1993" Contemporary Authors Gale
  3. ^ Waldmeir, Joseph, Essays in Honor of Russel B. Nye (East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press, 1978), vii.
  4. ^ Nye, Russel Blaine (1939-01-01). The mind and art of George Bancroft. University of Wisconsin--Madison.
  5. ^ Nye, Russel Blaine (1972-01-01). George Bancroft, Brahmin Rebel. Octagon Books. ISBN 9780374961336.
  6. ^ Baum, Lyman Frank; Gardner, Martin; Nye, Russel Blaine (1994-12-01). The Wizard of Oz and who he was. Michigan State University Press. ISBN 9780870133664.
  7. ^ Nye, Russel B.; Browne, Ray Broadus (1971-01-01). Crises on campus. Bowling Green University Press.
  8. ^ Nye, Russel B.; Garab, Arra M. (1971-01-01). Modern Essays. Scott, Forsman and Company.
  9. ^ Hinds, Harold E.; Motz, Marilyn Ferris; Nelson, Angela M. S. (2006-01-01). Popular Culture Theory and Methodology: A Basic Introduction. Popular Press. ISBN 9780879728717.
  10. ^ Waldmeir, Joseph J. (1978-01-01). Essays in Honor of Russel B. Nye. Michigan State University Press. ISBN 9780870132094.