On Monday, September 16, 2019, Bowling Green State University Libraries announced that Elizabeth Brownlow, a Ph.D. student in American Culture Studies, has been named as the 2019 recipient of The Roberta Gellis Memorial Paper Award. Brownlow’s paper “Distinguishing Feminist Readerships and Shaping Genre in the Online Community Romance Novels for Feminists” explores the ways in which “community members resist the image of the “typical” romance reader and the stigma attached to it by engaging with the genre through feminist critique and the sharing of personal experience to “save face” in a world that tells them one cannot be both feminist and a romance reader.”
The Roberta Gellis Memorial Award honors the best graduate and undergraduate papers written using the resources of the Ray & Pat Browne Library for Popular Culture Studies and pertaining to the fields of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or romance fiction. The award will be given on an annual basis.
Roberta Gellis (1927-2016) was a prolific author who published nearly 50 novels after the first was published in 1964. Best known for writing historical romances with medieval settings, Gellis gained notoriety with the 1979 series The Roselynde Chronicles. Gellis wrote across many genres including romantic suspense (both historical and contemporary), romantic fantasy, and science fiction. Regardless of genre, research was the hallmark of Gellis’ work, and she gave many sessions at romance conferences on the topic. In 1951, Gellis earned an MS in Chemistry from Brooklyn Polytechnic University, and later earned a second Masters in Medieval Literature.
The Ray & Pat Browne Library for Popular Culture Studies holds a large collection of Roberta Gellis manuscripts spanning her career, which she began donating in 1999. The Gellis family has continued donating materials since Roberta’s death in 2016, and established the paper award to encourage study in the Library’s extensive and unique collections related to genre fiction. The Library is extremely grateful for the Gellis family’s generosity and support.