This professorship seeks to fund proposals that allow UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University to work together to extend their capacity in specific areas.

Keohane Professorship Banner

The Keohane Professorship brings prominent faculty to serve as visiting professors at UNC and Duke for a one-year period, during which they deliver a lecture series and engage students and faculty around areas of shared interest to both institutions. Ultimately, the program is designed to energize new scholarly connections between Duke and UNC.

This professorship recognizes the remarkable contributions of Nannerl Keohane during her term as president of Duke University, and the unprecedented level of collaboration she and former UNC Chancellor James Moeser facilitated between these two great institutions.

The award was created in 2004 by then-Chancellor Moeser and was funded by the late Julian and Josie Robertson (parents of Spencer Robertson, Duke ’98, and Alex Robertson, UNC ’01) and the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust.

Goals of the Professorship

  1. Promote inter-institutional collaboration and the enhancement of intellectual life at both universities by strengthening established or encouraging new collaborations.
  2. Contribute to the intellectual life of both campuses, and enrich curricular experiences through a carefully planned series of engagements with students.
  3. Deliver a series of three original public lectures that delve into the most promising directions of research in the scholar’s field, with attention to a broad audience.

Structure and Activities of the Professorship

Keohane professors will work closely with faculty leadership on both campuses to identify dates for three visits to the Triangle, each anchored by one of the public lectures, across a one-year period. These visits will include sessions with undergraduate and graduate students, visits to relevant classes, and other types of engagement with intellectual communities on both campuses. Recipients will also work with either Duke University Press or UNC Press to explore publishing revised versions of the lectures.


Keohane professors receive a payment of $50,000, from which they are responsible for covering travel expenses for their three visits.

Selection Process

Every year, the offices of the Duke and UNC provosts meet with relevant deans to discuss areas of important intellectual ferment where a visiting professorship would deepen intellectual ties between the two campuses. The offices then invite faculty leaders in a selected area to put forward potential invitees who can speak to the most exciting avenues of research in that scholarly domain, and do so in a way that engages broader audiences. The provosts from both institutions jointly make the final selection. The humanities, arts and interpretive social sciences are current areas of particular focus.

Brett Ashley Kaplan

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Koehane Visiting Professor, Brett Kaplan

Visiting Scholar to Explore Memory, Aesthetics and Displacement During Keohane Professorship at Duke and UNC

Kaplan, who is Professor and Conrad Humanities Scholar in the Department of Comparative and World Literature at Illinois, is the author of “Critical Memory Studies: New Approaches,” “Unwanted Beauty: Aesthetic Pleasure in Holocaust Representation,” “Landscapes of Holocaust Postmemory” and “Jewish Anxiety and the Novels of Philip Roth,” as well as a novel, “Rare Stuff.”

Kaplan publishes in Haaretz, The Conversation,, As It Ought to Be Magazine, AJS Perspectives, Contemporary Literature, Edge Effects and The Jewish Review of Books. She has been interviewed on NPR, the AJS Podcast and The 21st.

Currently, Kaplan is working on an edited collection about contemporary Black-Jewish voices and writing a second novel.

Professor Ashley Kaplan will visit Carolina and Duke campuses three times this academic year, to give community lectures, academic seminars, visit classrooms, and meet with undergraduates, grad students and faculty at both campuses.

All community lectures will begin at 5:30p and are free and open to the public. A light reception will follow these lectures.

Spring schedule:

2/5: UNC Campus: Stone Center, annual Holocaust studies lecture

4/15: UNC Campus: Stone Center

Directions and Parking UNC Stone Center/Bell Tower Parking Deck

Flyer for April 15th "Fiction as History, History as Fiction" Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor Talk