Ana Box: How the giants of British literature might have reacted to Barbie

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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 this 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 other installments of “Silly Questions, Smart Bruins.”

Published July 21, 2023

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