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Bio

Harry J. Elam, Jr. is the Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the Olive H. Palmer Professor in the Humanities, and a Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education at Stanford University.

He is author of Taking It to the Streets: The Social Protest Theater of Luis Valdez and Amiri Baraka and the Erroll Hill Prize-winning The Past as Present in the Drama of August Wilson, and co-editor of five books, African American Performance and Theater History: A Critical Reader, Colored Contradictions: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Drama, The Fire This Time: African American Plays for the New Millenium, Black Cultural Traffic: Crossroads in Performance and Popular Culture and The Methuen Drama Book of Post-Black Plays. His articles have appeared in American Theater, American Drama, Modern Drama, Theatre Journal, Text, and Performance Quarterly as well as journals in Belgium, Israel, Poland, and Taiwan. He has also written essays published in several critical anthologies. Professor Elam is the former editor of Theatre Journal and is on the editorial boards of Atlantic Studies, Journal of American Drama and Theatre, and Modern Drama. In 2006, Professor Elam was the winner of the Betty Jean Jones award for Outstanding Teaching from the American Theatre and Drama Society, the winner of the Excellence in Editing Award from the Association of Theatre in Higher Education and the winner of the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society of Theatre Research. He was also inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre in April 2006.

In addition to his scholarly work, he has directed professionally for over twenty years. Most notably, he directed Tod, the Boy Tod by Talvin Wilks for the Oakland Ensemble Company and for TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, California. He directed Radio Golf by August Wilson, Jar the Floor by Cheryl West and Blues for an Alabama Sky by Pearl Cleague, which was nominated for nine Bay Area Circle Critics Awards and was the winner of Drama-Logue Awards for Best Production, Best Design, Best Ensemble Cast and Best Direction. He has directed several other August Wilson plays, including Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Two Trains Running, and Fences, the latter of which won eight Bay Area “Choice” Awards. In 2010, at the Roble Theatre on the Stanford campus, Professor Elam directed Rent by Jonathan Larson.
 
At Stanford he has been awarded six different teaching awards: The ASSU Award for Undergraduate Teaching, Small Classes (1992); the Humanities and Sciences Deans Distinguished Teaching Award (1993); the Black Community Service Center Outstanding Teacher Award (1994) (2002), The Bing Teaching Fellowship for Undergraduate Teaching (1994-1997); The Rhodes Prize for Undergraduate Teaching (1998).
 
Harry J. Elam, Jr. received his AB from Harvard College in 1978 and his Ph.D. in Dramatic Arts from the University of California Berkeley in 1984.
 
Directing credits:
Tod, the Boy Tod, by Talvin Wilks
Radio Golf, by August Wilson
Jar the Floor, by Cheryl West
Blues for an Alabama Sky, by Pearl Cleague
Joe Turner's Come and Gone, by August Wilson
Two Trains Running, by August Wilson
Fences, by August Wilson
Rent, by Jonathan Larson

Key works

The Past as Present in the Drama of August Wilson. University of Michigan, 2006

Taking it to the Streets: The Social Protest Theater of Luis Valdez and Amiri Baraka. University of Michigan Press, 2001

The Fire This Time: African American Plays for the New Millennium. Co-Ed With Robert Alexander. Theatre Communications Group, 2002

Black Cultural Traffic: Crossroads in Performance and Popular Culture. Co-Ed. With Kennell Jackson. University of Michigan, 2005

African American Performance and Theater History: A Critical Reader. With David Krasner. Oxford University Press, 2001

Colored Contradictions: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Drama. With Robert Alexander. Plume Publishers, 1996

Prof. Elam in the News

April 9, 2014
Harry Elam, Jr. , vice provost for undergraduate education at Stanford, has won the Career...
June 17, 2010
Palo Alto Online, June 17, 2010
March 12, 2007
Association for Theatre in Higher Education, March 12, 2007
October 3, 2005
News and Notes (NPR), October 3, 2005
InterChange, January 1, 1999
San Francisco Chronicle, October 13, 2008
Stanford Daily, July 8, 2010
Contra Costa Times, June 6, 2008
Stanford Report, October 8, 2003

Expertise

  • African American Theatre
  • African Diaspora Theatre
  • African-American Culture
  • African-American Literature
  • American Drama
  • Amiri Baraka
  • August
  • Luis Valdez
  • Race and Gender in Performing Arts
  • Social Protest Theatre
  • Writing for theatre

Contact information

helam@stanford.edu

Memorial Auditorium, M145

650.725.3964

Drama Department Profile


Education

A.B., Harvard College, 1978
Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, 1984