Stranger than fiction: Fan identity in cosplay

Nicolle Lamerichs

Abstract


Academic accounts of fan cultures usually focus on creative practices such as fan fiction, fan videos, and fan art. Through these practices, fans, as an active audience, closely interpret existing texts and rework them with texts of their own. A practice scarcely examined is cosplay ("costume play"), in which fans produce their own costumes inspired by fictional characters. Cosplay is a form of appropriation that transforms and actualizes an existing story in close connection to the fan community and the fan's own identity. I provide analytical insights into this fan practice, focusing on how it influences the subject. Cosplay is understood as a performative activity and analyzed through Judith Butler's concept of performativity. I specifically focus on boundaries between the body and dress, and on those between reality and fiction. I aim to show that cosplay emphasizes the personal enactment of a narrative, thereby offering new perspectives on fan identity.

Keywords


Crossplay; Fan costumes; Judith Butler; Performativity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2011.0246

License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), ISSN 1941-2258, is an online-only Gold Open Access publication of the nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works. TWC is a member of DOAJ. Contact the Editor with questions.