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Looted Art and the Power of Aesthetics  

February 5 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor 2023-2024

Brett Ashley Kaplan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Looted Art and the Power of Aesthetics  

Why was the Nazi regime so obsessed with aesthetics in general and art looting in particular? This talk tackles the relationship between aesthetics and genocide during the Holocaust by exploring several examples (some overlooked and some more well-known) that demonstrate the profound, disturbing interconnection between violence and beauty.



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.


For 2023-24, 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. This program is managed by the provost offices at both campuses, this year in collaboration with the Duke Center for Jewish Studies and the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies.


The Carolina Center for Jewish Studies is pleased to be a partner in this series.

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:

February 5: UNC Campus: Stone Center, annual Holocaust studies lecture

March 18: UNC Campus. NOTE: This lecture may be postponed to April. Please check back for updates.

Directions and Parking UNC Stone Center/Bell Tower Parking Deck



Brett Ashley Kaplan received her Ph.D. from the Rhetoric Department at the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 and is now a Professor and Conrad Humanities Scholar in the Program in Comparative and World Literature at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where she directs the Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, Memory Studies. Her first books, Unwanted Beauty: Aesthetic Pleasure in Holocaust Representation (2007) and Landscapes of Holocaust Postmemory (2011), examine the Shoah’s intersections with art and space. Turning to race in art and literature, she has published Jewish Anxiety in the Novels of Philip Roth (2015)She is the editor of Critical Memory Studies: New Approaches (Bloomsbury, 2023) and co-editor (with Anthony Russell and Sara Feldman) of the collection in progress, Blewish: Contemporary Black-Jewish Voices. Her first novel, Rare Stuff was published by Spuyten Duyvil in 2022, and she is at work on a second novel, Vandervelde Downs. She teaches classes in Jewish American Literature in Dialogue with U.S. Minority Cultures, Literary Responses to the Holocaust, Introduction to Theory, Introduction to Holocaust, Genocide, Memory Studies, Memory and Objects, and single author/auteur classes on J.M. Coetzee, Philip Roth, Marguerite Duras and Alain Resnais.


February 5
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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