Come on Barbie, let’s go party – Jane Austen-style!

Published: July 24, 2023
Anadaios Box

A UCLA doctoral student imagines how the giants of British literature might react to the world’s most famous doll

UCLA College | 

Dolls have likely existed for millennia, but they reached their hot-pink apex in 1959, when Barbie was introduced. Now, as “Barbie” premieres on silver screens around the nation, the plastic polymath has reasserted her sparkly place in our pop culture consciousness.

Which, naturally, got us wondering: What would the giants of English literature — the creators of some of the world’s other most enduring characters — make of Barbie’s success?

To find out, we talked with Anadaios “Ana” Box, a UCLA doctoral student who studies British literature from the 1660s to the 1830s. Box’s research focuses on gender and sexuality, translation practices and how history is portrayed.

In the third installment of the UCLA College video series “Silly Questions, Smart Bruins,” Box explains what Barbie has in common with Jane Austen’s Emma, what a Mary Shelley–inspired Barbie might have looked like and how Lord Byron fulfilled his own “dreamhouse” fantasy. (Watch the first and second installments of “Silly Questions, Smart Bruins.”)