Skip to main content

University Libraries

a student holds a barbie "reading" a book with a dreamhouse background

Barbie Streamhouse

By Katy Kelly

“We learn so much through playing as children, so I thought, ‘Why not learn through play as young adults?’” Inspired by the 2023 film Barbie, associate professor David Fine in the department of English incorporated creativity and play in a feminist theory and methodology course with the support of library employees and services.

Easy Video Creation

Using project-based learning, students in Fine’s class summarized and explained their understanding of feminist theory to a wide audience in a series of short videos called “Barbie’s Streamhouse.” 

“I stumbled across my youngest sister's old Barbie dreamhouse at my mom's house and realized that students could actually play with dolls and use them to explain the theory that we were reading,” Fine explained. 

The students were encouraged to use Roesch Library’s second-floor Story Studio, which provides a simple approach to recording video presentations. 

Fine learned about the Story Studio through the writing program’s annual workshop in 2022 and received a tour from the Libraries’ director of information systems and digital access, Ben Daigle. Soon after, in Fine’s British literature class, students used the space to retell the story of British literature.

“One group used the Story Studio to retell this story using puppets,” Fine said. “Their puppet show was fantastic, and it helped me to envision the Barbie Streamhouse project.”

“I think it's important to note that I am not using the Story Studio for professional productions; rather, I am using it as a user-friendly space where students can apply course materials and concepts. It can do very professional things, too, but I like how simple and easy it makes video creation for students.”

Barbie on Demand … and on Reserve

Tina Beis, director of collections strategies and services in the Libraries, facilitated the purchase of a streaming license for Barbie for in-class viewing and the final assignment. 

“I viewed the film with Shannon Toll from English and Meghan Henning from religious studies, and their comments about how the movie captured their memories of playing with Barbies got me thinking about incorporating the film into this class,” Fine shared. “I received a grant from UD’s Experiential Learning Innovation Fund for Faculty and used it to purchase the dolls.

How could the dolls be made available to the class’ multiple groups? Lisa Dame, interlibrary loan specialist, worked with Fine to add the items to course reserves, a longstanding library service.

With only one minor challenge — where to put a barcode — the process was pretty straightforward. Dame created space on the course reserves shelves for the dolls in their original boxes. Students requested the items from the desk in the library lobby to borrow, just like they would a book.

“This was a very fun and funny process,” Fine said. “Having the Barbies on reserve made it easy for students to check them out and then use them upstairs in the Story Studio.”

‘Humans Only Have One Ending. Ideas Live Forever.’

When teaching inspiration strikes, we all should feel supported. Creativity, innovation and collaboration make library work and education exciting.

“This project would not have come to fruition without the library's spaces and people,” Fine shared. “To be clear, the library provided inspiration as well as practical support.” 

Fine reports that the fun doesn’t stop at the end of the term: “The students have decided to donate the dolls and the Dreamhouse to the Holy Angels elementary school later this month so that the play can continue.” Sublime!

— In the University Libraries, Katy Kelly is a professor and assistant dean of strategic communication and outreach.

Previous Post

Congratulations, Library Graduates

The faculty and staff in the University Libraries honor, thank and congratulate the student staff who will graduate this year.
Read More
Next Post

Reunite with Roesch

University Libraries, including University Archives and the Marian Library, will host a Reunion Weekend open house on June 8.
Read More