Burlesquing Burnett: or, What Can We Learn from The Little Pinheads?
Rarely does an archival discovery convulse me into disturbing the peace of a quiet reading room with alternate bursts of laughter and gasps of outrage. So I’m excited to share for the first time the fruits of multiple years of research on a wild burlesque of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s popular children’s play The Little Princess (1903). Originally entitled The Little Pinheads, Joe Weber and Lew Fields’s The Big Little Princess toured the U.S. right alongside Burnett’s play, sometimes playing in the same city on the same day. What does the recuperation of this parody teach us about the evolution and appeal of Burnett’s still-beloved “Sara Crewe” story? What new light does it shed on the question of how Anglo-American attitudes toward children manifested themselves onstage at the turn of the twentieth century?
About the Speaker:
Marah Gubar, Associate Professor of Literature at MIT, is the author of Artful Dodgers: Reconceiving the Golden Age of Children’s Literature (Oxford University Press, 2009). Her essays on youth literature and culture have appeared in journals such as PMLA, American Quarterly, Victorian Studies, and Children’s Literature, as well as venues such as the Los Angeles Review of Books and Public Books.