Date of Completion

7-18-2012

Embargo Period

7-18-2012

Open Access

Campus Access

Abstract

This study is centered around the subculture of cosplay. Cosplay - the amalgamation of the words costume and play coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi in 1984 - is a growing phenomenon in the United States and around the world. Specifically, it is an activity where fans of Japanese animation create a costume and take on the persona of a character they like. Cosplay can be done where ever a cosplayer wishes, however, it is typically performed at an anime convention. The social interactions that occurred at the cosplay conventions were ripe for sociological examination as cosplay brings together upwards of 100,000 people into one location many weekends throughout the year. The limited work published on cosplay helped direct this research to focus on the notion of subversion to dominant cultural norms as other authors have simply mentioned that cosplay could be subversive, rather than exploring the multiple ways that the activity is subversive (Gn 2011; Lamerichs 2011; Taylor 2009). Their research discounts the impacts of diverse gender portrayals and ignores racial aspects of cosplay. Other researchers have pointed to the importance of examining the interactions of race and gender in social settings (Bonilla-Silva 2004; Lorber 2011; Valentine 2007; Wilkins 2008). In this research, I explored the intersections of race and gender on the evaluations of cosplays in the subculture of cosplay. By examining the interactions of cosplayer's social exchanges with other cosplayers where they display knowledge of their character or anime in general, I demonstrate how the appropriation of cultural symbols-anime or manga episodes and characters- and their subsequent transformation into cosplays can develop resistances to dominant notions of gender and race in both the participants engaged in cosplay and those that witness the phenomenon.

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