History professor Stephen Vella dies

Assistant Professor of History Stephen Vella died in New York on January 30 after an illness. He was 34.

A campus memorial service will be held February 12 at 3 p.m. in Davis Chapel. Memorials may be made to Oxfam America. He is survived by his partner, Xan Price, his parents, Ann and James Vella, and a sister, Susan.

Vella joined the faculty in 2006 and exemplified Wake Forest’s teacher-scholar model, said Simone Caron, associate professor and chair of the history department. “Stephen’s love of teaching was made clear by the students who flocked to his classes and the strong evaluations they gave him each semester. I sat in on his classes over the years and can truly say that I was mesmerized by his intellectual prowess.”

Vella was an expert on the cultural and social history of 18th and 19th century Britain and British imperialism in India. During his tenure, he taught The British Empire; World Civilizations since 1500; The British Isles from 1485 to 1750; Great Britain since 1750; and a first-year seminar. He was on leave for the 2009-10 academic year and was working on a book manuscript, “Gentlemanly Conquerors: The Domestication of the Colonial Indian Frontier and the Refashioning of British Imperial Indentity, 1790-1850.”

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Vella graduated from Princeton in 1997. He studied at the Royal Holloway at the University of London (2002-04) and received his PhD from Yale in 2006. His dissertation won the distinguished John Addison Porter Dissertation Prize from Yale. He was proficient in Bengali, French, Italian and Spanish.

Categories: Faculty