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ISHR - Carol Poster

Obituary for Carol Poster

--Submitted by Georgiana Donavin

Carol Poster, long time member of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric, died of colon cancer at the age of 65 on October 22, 2021. Because of health challenges, Carol had not been able to attend Society conferences for several years, but she continued with academic, literary, and commercial writing until her final days in hospice. Spanning many fields and genres, Carol published articles on classical rhetoric, its reception in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, epistolary forms, sermon theory, and Richard Whately. She collaborated with ISHR members on projects such as the foundation of Disputatio, a transdisciplinary journal that became the book series now distributed by Brepols, and on scholarly anthologies such as Letter-Writing Manuals from Antiquity to the Present, edited with Linda Mitchell. Like many truly gifted people, Carol could be challenging—sometimes not answering emails or following through—but her collaborators and friends knew the value of patience: Carol’s loyalty to and care for us was unshakeable. All Carol’s close colleagues benefited from her enthusiasm for promising research projects and deep commitment to excellence. That (in addition to research in rhetoric) Carol also published books of poetry and essays on outdoor recreation, environmental issues, and computers shows that her active mind and productivity cannot be characterized in a few words. Neither can her life be summed up: she was a faithful Episcopalian, accomplished ballerina, fearless skier, avid video gamer and so much more. As a professor, she spread her knowledge in a series of academic positions: after obtaining her PhD at the University of Missouri in 1994 under Martin Camargo’s guidance, she held professorships at University of Northern Iowa, Montana State, Florida State, and York University in Toronto. She completed her teaching career as Goss Distinguished Professor of Writing and Professor of English at Fort Hays State University. Carol’s command of a wide range of subjects never ceased to amaze students, and beyond her own classrooms, she inspired graduate students around the world with cutting-edge research and profound analyses. To students and colleagues alike, she was most generous in sharing recent findings and encouraging innovative work. After retiring in 2015, Carol took up residence outside of Tucson, where in addition to her writing projects she photographed the amusing behavior of nearby wildlife and gorgeous desert plants. Although Carol approached her death philosophically and showed that she was “at peace,” ready (in Tennyson’s words) “to meet [her] pilot face to face,” it is difficult to believe that her animated spirit has departed from this world. ISHR has lost a member of vast expertise and an incomparable friend.

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