Salem, James M. 1937-

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Salem, James M. 1937-


Born November 15, 1937, in Portage, WI; son of Carleton A. and Blanche Salem; married Donna McLernon, December 27, 1958; children: Timothy, Betsy, Jennifer, Jon. Education: Wisconsin State University—La Crosse (now University of Wisconsin—La Crosse), B.S., 1961; Kent State University, graduate study, 1961-62; Louisiana State University, Ph. D., 1965. Politics: Liberal. Religion: "Unorganized."


Home—Tuscaloosa, AL. Office—Department of American Studies, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0214; fax: 205-348-9766. E-mail—[email protected].


Kent State University, Kent, OH, assistant professor of English, 1965-67; University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, assistant professor, 1967-68, associate professor of English, 1968-74, professor of American studies, 1974—, director of American Studies Program, 1968-84, department chair, 1984-2007. Producer of record albums, including (with John Fletcher) Oakley Hill: Live from the Tomb, American Pie (Tuscaloosa, AL), 1980. Military service: U.S. Army, 1956. U.S. Army Reserve, 1959-64.


International Association for the Study of Popular Music, American Studies Association, American Culture Association, Society for American Music, Southeastern American Studies Association.


Citation for outstanding reference work, American Library Association, 1970, for Drury's Guide to Best Plays, 2nd edition; certificate of excellence for distinguished achievement in the communicating arts, Chicago '77 Vision Exhibition, 1977, for the article "Teenage Suicide: A Permanent Answer to a Temporary Problem."


A Guide to Critical Reviews, Scarecrow (Metuchen, NJ), Part I: American Drama from O'Neill to Albee, 1966, 2nd edition published as American Drama, 1909-1982, 1973, Part II: The Musical from Rodgers and Hart to Lerner and Loewe, 1967, 3rd edition published as The Musical, 1909-1989, 1991, Part III: British and Continental Drama from Ibsen to Pinter, 1968, 2nd edition published as Foreign Drama, 1909-1977, 1979, Part IV: The Screenplay from "The Jazz Singer" to "Dr. Strangelove," two volumes, 1971, Part IV: The Screenplay, Supplement One, 1963-1980, 1982.

Drury's Guide to Best Plays, Scarecrow (Metuchen, NJ), revised 2nd edition, 1969, 4th edition, 1987.

A New Generation of Essays, with instructor's manual, W.C. Brown (Dubuque, IA), 1972.

The Late Great Johnny Ace and the Transition from R&B to Rock 'n' Roll, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1999.

Contributor to encyclopedias. Contributor to Columbia Journal of American Studies, American Music, Prospects: Annual of American Cultural Studies, Serif, Renascence, Shaw Review, Nutshell, Graduate, and other periodicals. Songwriter, including coauthor of the songs "It's Gettin' Too Deep," "(I Ain't Ever Been to Texas) But I Sure Do Like to Swing," "Gerald," and "The Changes Are Coming So Fast," all Rocker Music (Nashville, TN), 1978; and "Angelina," "Alabama Honky Tonk," and "Alabama Outlaws," all American Pie Music (Tuscaloosa, AL), 1980.


The Whirligig of Life (one-act play), Dramatic Publishing (Chicago, IL), 1968.

(With wife, Donna Salem) April and the Fools (one-act play), published in Instructor, 1969.

The Courtmartial of Billy Budd (one-act play), Dramatic Publishing (Chicago, IL), 1969.

The Love Life of Herbert Packenstacker (one-act play), Pioneer Drama Service (Cody, WY), 1969.

Beauty and the Beast (television play), Alabama Public Television, 1970.

The Prince Who Wouldn't Grow (television play), Alabama Public Television, 1970.

Beatlemania: A Catalyst for Change (television documentary special), Alabama Public Television, 1984.


James M. Salem once told CA that he undertook A Guide to Critical Reviews because no reference book existed to help him locate reviews of American plays for his doctoral dissertation; he started the volume on American drama as soon as he received his Ph.D., and added that the "other parts grew out of that book's popularity."

Salem later commented: "In 1987 I was writing the ‘middle’ chapter of my book on the 1950s—a chapter about Johnny Ace, the rhythm and blues singer whose posthumous ‘Pledging My Love’ may be the first rock 'n' roll record—when I recovered the ‘lost’ official Harris County, Texas, inquest proceedings of Ace's death that had been stored in a Houston warehouse for decades. The chapter turned longer and longer, especially when I discovered that almost every written account of Ace's life and career was flawed and misinformed. In addition, over the years he had clearly been ‘colonized’ by white rock writers. Finally I abandoned the general book on the 1950s and concentrated on researching the life and career of Johnny Ace. Several journal articles and The Late Great Johnny Ace and the Transition from R&B to Rock 'n' Roll came out of that experience."

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Salem, James M. 1937-

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