Stranger than fiction: Fan identity in cosplay
Keywords:Crossplay, Fan costumes, Judith Butler, Performativity
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.
TWC Nos. 25 onward are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC by 4.0). For an explanation of the journal's reasoning, see the TWC editorial Copyright and Open Access. TWC Nos. 1 through 24 are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, with TWC, not the author, retaining copyright.
Presses whose policies require written permission for reproduction should contact the TWC Editor; such permission is routinely given for no fee.