Russel Blaine Nye (February 17, 1913 – September 2, 1993) 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. Nye taught in the English department at Michigan State University from 1941 to 1979.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.