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Anne Frank Unbound

Media, Imagination, Memory

Edited by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Jeffrey Shandler

Publication Year: 2012

As millions of people around the world who have read her diary attest, Anne Frank, the most familiar victim of the Holocaust, has a remarkable place in contemporary memory. Anne Frank Unbound looks beyond this young girl's words at the numerous ways people have engaged her life and writing. Apart from officially sanctioned works and organizations, there exists a prodigious amount of cultural production, which encompasses literature, art, music, film, television, blogs, pedagogy, scholarship, religious ritual, and comedy. Created by both artists and amateurs, these responses to Anne Frank range from veneration to irreverence. Although at times they challenge conventional perceptions of her significance, these works testify to the power of Anne Frank, the writer, and Anne Frank, the cultural phenomenon, as people worldwide forge their own connections with the diary and its author.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: The Modern Jewish Experience

Title Page

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pp. ix-x

This volume of essays was developed from presentations at Mediating Anne Frank, a colloquium convened in 2005 by the Working Group on Jews, Media, and Religion of the Center for Religion and Media at New York University. We are most grateful to Faye Ginsburg, Angela Zito, and...

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Introduction: Anne Frank, the Phenomenon

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pp. 1-22

The list is daunting. Dozens of musical compositions, ranging from oratorio to indie rock. A dramatization given hundreds of productions annually. Thousands of YouTube videos. A museum visited by millions. To these, add a growing number of works of fine art, biography, fiction...

I. Mediating

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1. From Diary to Book: Text, Object, Structure

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pp. 25-58

Most of the many mediations of Anne Frank’s diary—plays, films, artworks, musical compositions, memorials, lesson plans, even jokes—begin with the book: that is, the published diary. To speak of “the diary” as “the book,” though, is to elide the diary’s initial, key mediations. Its transformation...

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2. Anne Frank from Page to Stage

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pp. 59-92

Although this conversation—which took place when The Diary of Anne Frank enjoyed its first Broadway revival in forty-two years—may seem trivial, it raises key issues about the play. First is the use of theater as a “sacred space” to affirm an ethno-religious identity and moral code. Attending a...

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3. Anne Frank’s Moving Images

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pp. 93-134

I have a vivid memory of watching the 1980 television adaptation of the Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett play The Diary of Anne Frank, especially my response to Melissa Gilbert, who played the role of Anne. Gilbert was then best known for portraying Laura Ingalls Wilder on the television series...

II. Remembering

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4. Hauntings of Anne Frank: Sitings in Germany

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pp. 137-159

In stark contrast to the extensive attention paid to Anne Frank’s life since the first publications of her diary, especially the years she spent in hiding in Amsterdam, the story of her death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which took place at some time in March 1945, was long neglected...

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5. Teaching Anne Frank in the United States

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pp. 160-177

Millions of readers around the world have encountered Anne Frank’s diary in the classroom, perhaps more than in any other setting. The diary was first published as a text for all readers, not especially for young people or for students, but within a few years of its first appearance in print, teachers...

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6. Anne Frank as Icon, from Human Rights to Holocaust Denial

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pp. 178-192

Anne Frank was one of Time magazine’s twenty “heroes and icons of the 20th century,” along with such honorees as Albert Einstein and Princess Diana. Unlike these other figures, Anne gained this status posthumously, through the publication of her diary and its later mediations. Translated into...

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7. Anne Frank, a Guest at the Seder

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pp. 193-211

Anne Frank never mentions the Jewish holiday of Passover in her diary. There is no evidence in the diary that Anne ever attended a seder, the ritual meal traditionally held in Jewish homes on the first and second nights of Passover. Yet, every year when Jews recount the story of their freedom and...

III. Imagining

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8. Literary Afterlives of Anne Frank

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pp. 215-253

As a book in which the act of writing figures so centrally and self-consciously, Anne Frank’s widely read diary has, not surprisingly, engendered an especially rich array of literary responses. These include the literary efforts of inspired teenagers as well as poems and prose fiction by accomplished...

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9. Suturing In: Anne Frank as Conceptual Model for Visual Art

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pp. 254-264

Looking beyond the iconic smiling girl portrayed in a handful of widely circulated photographs of Anne Frank, contemporary artists have used diverse strategies to clear a path through the dense thicket of cultural construction around Anne Frank for a more personal and direct reconnection to her...

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10. Sounds from the Secret Annex: Composing a Young Girl’s Thoughts

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pp. 265-287

In her diary entry of December 7, 1942, Anne Frank recounted a rare musical moment in the Annex. “We didn’t make much fuss about Chanukah,” she wrote. “[W]e just gave each other a few little presents and then we had the candles. Because of the shortage of candles we only had them alight for ten...

IV. Contesting

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11. Critical Thinking: Scholars Reread the Diary

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pp. 291-308

The publication of De Dagboeken van Anne Frank by the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation in 1986 marks a threshold in how Anne’s diary has been read, taught, and discussed. An English translation, The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (referred to hereafter as the Critical Edition), appeared...

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12. Anne Frank on Crank: Comic Anxieties

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pp. 309-323

Making a joke about Anne Frank seems to be widely regarded as an act of bad taste. Why, then, would someone do so? Such jokes may engage some of the same challenging ideas about Anne’s significance in contemporary culture as do works of avant-garde video, performance, or visual art, but joking lacks the...

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Epilogue: A Life of Its Own—The Anne Frank Tree

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pp. 324-338

If not for Anne Frank’s diary, the chestnut tree that stood behind 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam would have lived and died unnoticed during the almost 180 years of its life. But once news spread that this tree was ailing, it acquired a life of its own—moreover, a life that seems destined to continue...


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pp. 339-376


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pp. 377-396


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pp. 397-407


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pp. 409-412


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pp. 413-434

Image Plates

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E-ISBN-13: 9780253007551
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253006615

Page Count: 448
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: The Modern Jewish Experience