Harry J. Elam, Jr. is the Olive H. Palmer Professor in the Humanities, the senior vice provost for education, the vice president for the arts, and the Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Stanford University. He is an internationally recognized scholar on African-American theater and performance, most particularly on the late playwright, August Wilson. Elam is the author and editor of seven books, including the Erroll Hill Prize-winning The Past as Present in the Drama of August Wilson. Elam’s articles and essays have appeared in a wide variety of journals and collections in the United States and abroad.
Professor Elam is 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 for Theatre in Higher Education, and the winner of the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society of Theatre Research. He was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre in 2006 and awarded the Career Achievement Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education in 2014. In October 2019, Elam was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. At Stanford he has earned six different teaching awards. In addition to his scholarly work, he has directed professionally for more than 25 years; most notably, he has directed many of August Wilson's plays, including Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Two Trains Running, and Fences, which won eight Bay Area “Choice” awards. Elam received his AB from Harvard College in 1978 and his PhD in dramatic arts from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1984.