Harry J. Elam Jr.
Elam's scholarship has significantly influenced the study of contemporary American theatre. Elam's ground-breaking first book, Taking it to the Streets (1997), helped to inaugurate the field of comparative race studies, as it was the first book to connect critically African American and Chicano theatre. Elam's award-winning second book, The Past as Present in the Drama of August Wilson (2004), has been pivotal in Wilson criticism and has become the most referenced work on this renowned playwright. His insightful essays on playwright Suzan-Lori Park's early work have also been extremely influential. In addition, Elam's award-winning critical collection, A Critical Reader on African American Performance and Theatre History (2000), serves as foundational text in African American theatre studies, as Elam's incisive introduction foregrounds the importance of theatre studies to the examination of African American identity.