Professor Keller-Cohen has conducted research on a wide range of areas using ethnographic, experimental, archival and textual methodologies. Her work on literacy has examined both contemporary and historical American contexts with a focus on everyday understandings of reading, writing and speaking. She has examined literate practices in a credit union, how people understand and use the phone bill and how colonial Americans conceived of literacy. As a discourse analyst, her work has explored how people tell their life stories with particular emphasis on individual and gender-related differences. Her newest line of work is concerned with language and aging. In particular she is examining the relationship between the maintenance of language skills and the nature of one's social environment and how gender, education and cognition affect that relationship.
Professor Keller-Cohen teaches discourse analysis, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, a graduate seminar on narrative, gender and aging and language and aging.
Deborah Keller-Cohen has served in many administrative roles at Michigan including as a member of the LS&A College Executive Committee, as Associate Director of the institute for Research on Women and Gender, member of the Rackham Executive Board, Director of Graduate Studies in Women’s Studies, Director of the English Composition Board and Associate Chair of Linguistics. She is currently Associate Dean for Humanities and the Arts, Rackham Graduate School.