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HIST1012 Who is Anne Frank?

Module Overview

This module introduces students to the life of Anne Frank and to her writing and legacy.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To provide students with an opportunity to study academic and popular responses to the history, memory and representation of Anne Frank and her writing, in the context of the Holocaust as a whole.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Think about the relationship between Anne Frank and Holocaust representation
  • Consider the concept of Holocaust memory
  • Approach the Holocaust using a variety of historical, literary, and cultural source materials
  • Consider the broader themes of Holocaust historiography
  • Use a wide range of primary and secondary source material
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Express your thoughts and ideas in presentation and written format
  • Be familiar with the resources of the Parkes Library
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Give class presentations
  • Research and complete essays
  • Combine the use of primary and secondary sources
  • Assess the relationship between a ‘case study’ and wider context in the study of an historical moment
  • Bring a multi and inter-disciplinary approach to your studies in History.


‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ is the most widely read non-fiction book in the post-war world. The author has become a symbol of Jewish suffering during (what we now term) the Holocaust and a figure emblematic of all victims of the Second World War. Indeed she might be described as an iconic figure, her name invoked across the world in campaigns promoting anti-racism and human rights. This course will introduce you to the life of Anne Frank and to her writing and legacy. It will place her singular experience in the wider context of a history of the Holocaust as a whole and introduce you to broad themes of recent Holocaust historiography. The course also provides a history of ‘the Diary’, tracing the development of the book from a relatively unknown publication in the late 1940s to a bestseller ten years later, analysing why it became so successful in a range of national contexts, including Germany and Japan. Students will be encouraged to analyse ‘the Diary’ from a variety of perspectives – as an historical source but also as a literary and cultural text. ‘The Diary’ has been the focus of some controversy since its publication and the course will examine issues surrounding the abridgement of the original text and attempts to deny its authenticity. The course will draw on the impressive body of secondary literature that exists to document the life of Anne Frank but students will also be expected to engage with filmic interpretations of ‘the Diary’ - both imaginative and documentary-based works – and, crucially, primary texts. Methodologically, the course raises the question of whether artistic representations of the Holocaust are as valid as those based on historical sources in terms of our understanding of the event. Fundamentally, this course asks whether responses to ‘The Diary’ reveal more about ourselves than about the experiences of the Jews or other victims of the Second World War.

Special Features

This is a Cases and Context Module. As such a combination of a case study of Anne Frank’s life, writing and legacy and a study of broader themes of Holocaust historiography provides a wide range of topics for study. These topics are taught using the extensive existing secondary literature on Anne Frank and specific primary sources. Students are able to choose an essay topic from suggested titles that reflect the content of seminars and the wide-ranging nature of the course or students can formulate their own titles. All essays should demonstrate use of primary material. The intention is that essays and exam questions should reflect the balance between the case study and the wider context of the course.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Double session seminars • Showing of films and documentaries • Provision of specific primary texts for class reading and discussion Learning activities include • Use of primary texts • Exhibition visits • Class discussion Innovative or special features of this module  Combines an introduction to the life of Anne Frank, her writing and her legacy with a study of the broad themes of recent Holocaust historiography  Visit to travelling Anne Frank Exhibition

Independent Study125
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Michael Marrus (1988). The Holocaust in History. 

Anne Frank (2000). The Diary of Anne Frank. 

Donald Bloxham and Tony Kushner (2004). The Holocaust: Critical Historical Perspectives. 

Hyman A.Enzer and Sandra Solotaroff-Enzer (eds.) (2000). Anne Frank. Reflections on her life and legacy. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback  Student presentations receive informal email feedback  Short written exercise set in week one


MethodPercentage contribution
Commentary exercise  (1000 words) 20%
Essay  (2000 words) 40%
Examination  (1 hours) 40%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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