Browne Popular Culture Library

PCL MS-216: Popular Press Collection

Introduction | Agency Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory

Agency Sketch

The Brownes came to Bowling Green State University in 1967 for Ray Browne to take a faculty position in the English Department and to accept $4,000 from then president Bill Jerome to begin the publication of the quarterly Journal of Popular Culture, a much needed publication in which to disseminate academic research within the emerging popular culture field. In addition to the Journal of Popular Culture, the newly established press would eventually publish Clues: A Journal of Detection, Popular Music and Society, Journal of Cultural Geography, and Abstracts of Popular Culture among others.

Between 1969-1970 the journal had produced sufficient funds of its own to allow the press to start publishing books. In 1969 Melville’s Israel Potter: A Pilgrimage and Progress by Arnold Rampersad was produced. It would be followed in 1970 by one of the press’s best sellers, Six Gun Mystique by John Cawelti. According to Ray Browne, the press was "a pace-setter in bringing out books in Popular Culture" by being first in publishing critical essays in women’s studies, science fiction and detective fiction specialties. Film and literary commentaries as well as university level text books and reference works devoted to the study of popular culture were an important part of their output.

Pat Browne served as business manager and director of the press. Four or five full-time employees and some student assistants comprised the staff. By 1988 the press had to its credit a list of 200 titles (over 500 by the time it was sold) and annually published about twenty books. By 1996 an estimated 400 manuscripts were submitted annually. Customarily once a manuscript was selected it was forwarded to three readers, who in turn would comment upon its publishing potential. Press runs between 500-1,000 copies per title were preferred and most printing was done by companies in Ann Arbor, Michigan or in Defiance, Ohio.

In 2002 the press was sold by BGSU to the University of Wisconsin.