‘Shane’ first edition among collection donated by Hoppenstand

Dr. Gary Hoppenstand ’82 ’85 discovered the allure of comic books at an early age. By the time he was 16 years old and mowing lawns to earn money, he was already a bona fide collector.

Though comic books were his early fascination, he became a voracious reader of various genres of literature, from the classics to pulp fiction. Over time his collections expanded exponentially.

He came to BGSU in 1981 to earn a Master of Arts degree in popular culture. Under the tutelage of Dr. Ray Browne, a pioneer in the field of popular culture, Hoppenstand was transformed from a reader to a teacher and a scholar. After receiving his master’s degree he pursued a Ph.D. in American culture studies and became even more entrenched in the study of science fiction, fantasy, Western, detective and suspense novels.

As his interests broadened, his collections grew.  Now, after more than 40 years of reading, researching and collecting books, he is turning over one of his most prized books and artifacts collections to the Ray and Pat Browne Popular Culture Library in the William T. Jerome Library.

This collection, recently delivered in 27 boxes, makes the sixth he has donated to the pop culture library and brings the total Hoppenstand Collection to well over 1,000 items.

"The University Libraries is very grateful for Gary’s investment in the Browne Popular Culture Library,” said Sara Bushong, dean of University Libraries. "His gift provides researchers the opportunity to embrace the study of popular culture at BGSU and elevates the impact of our collection to the greater scholarly community."

The latest collection, valued at more than $110,000, includes the prized first edition, signed copy of the great Jack Schaefer Western “Shane,” generally acknowledged as one of the best Westerns ever written. Because of its significance, the book, along with several related items, was hand delivered.

He also has donated a first edition of the 1902 classic “The Virginian” by Owen Wister, several signed editions of B. M. Bower’s books about the Flying U Ranch in Montana, and complete sets of numbered and signed first editions of W. W. Jacobs, including one that came from Jacobs’ personal library.

For Hoppenstand, donating the books and items to the Browne Popular Culture Library is a meaningful way he can give back to BGSU and Browne.

“Ray was on my dissertation committee and helped instill in me the importance of understanding the culture of everyday life,” he said. “I was always interested in crime and detective fiction, but he helped me focus on scholarly pursuits.”

Hoppenstand also worked closely with Browne on the Journal of Popular Culture, of which he assumed editorship for more than a decade after Browne retired.

He feels fortunate to have worked with Browne at BGSU and with the late Russel B. Nye, another pop culture pioneer, at Michigan State University, where Hoppenstand is a professor of English.

Hoppenstand’s connection to BGSU and his wish to pay tribute to Browne are among the reasons he has elected to donate so many of his collections here.

“I wanted BG to have it, in part because it was here that was my most life-changing time,” he said. “I am so proud of Ray and Pat’s accomplishments; it is because of them that the library has a strength in popular fiction.”

He also opted not to sell to collectors because then the books would “go into the market and be lost” to researchers.

Many of the books he has donated are first editions, chosen because he believes they are more authentic. Researchers can “see the whole story” by looking at the text, the illustrations and how the book was produced, Hoppenstand said.

“To look at first editions (of these genres) in the Browne Popular Culture Library is equivalent to seeing the first folios of Shakespeare at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C.,” he said.

“This is where I wanted to see the collections placed, where they belong, because the library has the access and resources to provide insights into these books and the culture behind them.”