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In Memoriam: Stanley J. Kahrl (1931-89)


A Remembrance by Christian K. Zacher and Paul E. Szarmach

Stanley J. Kahrl, Professor of English at Ohio State University, died suddenly on December 3, 1989, while participating in the re-enactment of the Civil War Battle of Franklin (Tennessee). Stan died in the outdoors that he loved, pursuing one of his many interests that reflected his enthusiasm for drama and living re-creations of the past.

Longtime readers of OEN will readily recall that Stan was Editor for volumes 3-9, working with the late Rowland Collins, Associate Editor for YWOES and Alan Brown, Bibliographer. Stan took OEN to Ohio State from the University of Rochester, when he moved there to become the first Director of OSU's Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. During his tenure as Editor, OEN grew in size, scope, and influence. Along with Jess B. Bessinger, Jr., Stan collected the influential Essential Articles for the Study of Old English Poetry (1968).

Stan's colleagues remember him as an exuberant, constant teacher, who believed that teaching and research reinforced each other. His first act as CMRS Director was to create courses and teach in them. His enthusiasm for medieval drama led to three major books and some dozen articles. The National Endowment for the Humanities gave him a large grant to support "International Cooperation in Publishing Records of Early English Drama," which underwrote participation in the Toronto-based REED project. The NEH awarded him two successive continuations. For Stan medieval drama was no dry scholar's pursuit. He believed in the performance of the text, producing a series of plays for public television in the mid-1970's, again aided by an NEH grant. His idea of a springtime pilgrimage was driving a car full of students to annual medieval gatherings in Kalamazoo or Toronto. Always active in promoting inventive teaching, Stan chose administrative tasks at OSU that had to do with the curriculum and student recruitment. He himself was the generous, avuncular teacher, readier to say yes than no, full of good will, and always waiting to be taught himself.

Many outside of OSU valued his service to the profession at large. Present at the inception of Centers and Regional Associations, the committee of the Mediaeval Academy of America representlng the interests of programs in Medieval Studies, Stan helped form and guide the group with his energy and vision. He served the Academy as a member of its Fiftieth Anniversary Campaign Committee. Recently he accepted the position of Treasurer of the Academy, where his knowledge of both the world of finance and academe was proving to be most useful. An alumnus of Harvard (magna cum laude, 1953; Ph.D., 1962), Stan was a member of the Visiting Committee for the University Library for the Harvard Board of Overseers. Nearer to home, he was active in committees supporting St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and several local schools.

Stan gave more to the profession than he took. His personal and professional example will guide us as we mourn his loss.

OEN 23.1 (1989): 15.