Cosplayers: Gender and Identity is an examination of identity practices in cosplay, as expressed by cosplayers themselves. It challenges the assumed correlation between cosplay and cosplayer identity and considers the lived experiences of cosplayers engaging in the fan practice of sartorial performance.
Through a series of chapters covering the blurring lines of gender, sexualized fantasy in real spaces, and nostalgia, the author argues that observational data run the risk of affirming normative expectations of identity in the absence of cosplayer narratives, and produce misreadings that generalize. The work develops and builds an understanding of a complex cultural system of art, engaging with multiple methodologies to make identity, fandom, and critical analysis on the parts of participants and observers alike.
This is an accessible and innovative study suitable for scholars and students in gender studies, cultural studies, sexuality studies, sociology, and media studies.
Table of Contents
1 All the Con’s a Stage: A Study of (Cos)Players
Setting the Stage
Limitations of Cosplay Research
The (Cos)Players: Research Methodology
2 Man Describes Not Me, Nor Woman Neither: Cosplayers and the Fiction of Gender
What’s in a name? The Drag Debate
On Crossplay and Identity: Asking for Answers
What do you have to say? Cosplayers on Gender and Identity
3 On Bodies and Boundaries: Regulating Fantasy in Real Spaces
Peace-bound: Convention Rules
Regulating the Cosplayer Body
A Defense of "Sexy" Cosplays
4 Manning: Minority Identities and Gatekeeping in Cosplay
Cosplaying While Black
Internal Memos: Gatekeeping Within the Cosplay Community
Conclusion: Cosplay and Identity
5 The Cosplay’s the Thing
A. Luxx Mishou (she/her) is a queer femme Victorianist and gender studies scholar researching cosplay, comics, fashion, and the gothic. She holds a doctorate in Victorian literature and gender studies from Old Dominion University, where she defended her dissertation, Holy Stitches Batman: Performative Villainy in Gothic/am, in 2020. She earned an MA in English literature and language from the University of Maryland College Park (conferred in 2007), and a BA in English from Washington College (conferred in 2005). She has recently contributed chapters to Fan Phenomena: Rocky Horror Picture Show (2015), Fashion and Material Culture in Victorian Fiction and Periodicals (2019), and Sartorial Fandom: Fashion, Beauty Culture, and Identity (forthcoming). Dr. Mishou has presented her research on masculinity in comics at the Northeast Modern Language Association conference (2015), on cosplay at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference (2017, 2019) and the Comics and Popular Arts Conference (2018), and on Alison Bechdel at the Modern Language Association conference (2018). She currently works as an adjunct and independent scholar.