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Shona Kelly Wray (1963–2012)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shona Kelly Wray (1963–2012)

Shona Kelly Wray, who died unexpectedly in early May in Florence, Italy, was Associate Professor of History at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, where she taught courses and conducted research in late medieval Italian history. She earned her BA from the University of California at Davis (1986), an MA from the University of Colorado at Boulder (1990), and a PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder (1999). She was a Fulbright student at the University of Bologna, Italy (1986–87) and Fellow at the American Academy in Rome (2002–03); in 2011–12 she was a Fellow at Harvard University’s Villa I Tatti. Her research examined the social history of late medieval Italy, focusing on social responses to the Black Death, notarial culture and testaments, peace settlements and conflict resolution, women's property issues, and faculty families in Bologna.

Her publications included Communities and Crisis: Bologna during the Black Death (Leiden: Brill, 2009), Across the Religious Divide: Women, Gender, and Law in the Wider Mediterranean (ca. 1300–1800), coedited with Jutta Sperling (New York: Routledge, 2010), and articles in books and journals such as the Journal of Social History, the Journal of Medieval History, the Journal of Medieval Prosopography. She taught courses on the Black Death, gender and family in medieval and early modern Europe, Renaissance and Reformation Europe, and world history.

Shona was a brilliant scholar-teacher, beloved by her colleagues and students. A student of medieval and Renaissance Italy, medieval feminist scholarship, medical history, and more, Shona was one of the brightest lights of her generation. She was in Florence at Villa I Tatti during AY 2011–2012 doing research for what promised to be a groundbreaking social history of the households and family of faculty at the University of Bologna in the fourteenth century.

A native Californian, her peregrinatio academica began early with sojourns in New Zealand and England as a child in the company of her sister Maggi and her parents while they were on sabbatical. Her love of the outdoors was also kindled in those years, and she later reveled in the chance to enjoy the mountains of Colorado during her graduate school years. An accomplished swimmer and a graceful dancer, Shona was able to achieve excellence in both mind and body. She delighted in the company of her husband, economist Randall Wray, and her two teenage children, Shane and Alina. The outpouring of affection from colleagues and friends in the wake of her death focused primarily upon Shona’s laughter, generosity, and kindness, traits evident to everyone who knew her. Her intellectual curiosity encompassed not just Italian history, but a myriad of other topics too, from Colorado mining towns to the creation of fine wine. Testaments from colleagues, family, and friends, as well as a listing of memorial services, conferences, and scholarships planned in Shona’s honor, are available at a website created by Shona’s sister Maggi, at

Submitted by Christopher Carlsmith (30 May 2012)

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