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Title: Performing Cosplay – Insights from a Subculture about Identity Embodiment, Spaces, and the Gaze
Authors: Tan En Hao
Keywords: cosplay, gaze, space, performance, identity, embodiment.
Issue Date: 2016
Citation: Tan En Hao (2016). Performing Cosplay – Insights from a Subculture about Identity Embodiment, Spaces, and the Gaze. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Cosplay is a subculture that has recently drawn attention from mainstream academic literature in media studies and sociology. Although some studies have illustrated the role of performance and identities in cosplay (Lamerichs, 2011; Rahman et al., 2012; Leng, 2013), there are no studies on the geographical aspects of cosplay, such as the social space and performative space in which cosplayers create identities and perform cosplay. Using multimethods such as pilot interviews, online open-ended questionnaires, in-depth semi-structured interviews and participant observation, this paper attempts to interpret performativity to examine how the gaze as well as identities are performed within the cosplay subculture. Based on the critiques of Judith Butler’s (1990) theory of performativity, such as the ‘limits of performativity’ (Nelson, 1999:341) and developments in tourist gaze theories (Urry and Larsen, 2011:2), this paper uses feminist naturalistic inquiry to illustrate how cosplayers perceive the gaze, performativity, and identity embodiment. Chapter Four examines the gaze enacted by insiders and outsiders in different physical and social spaces to explain how cosplayers possess personal agency to handle the different forms of intrusive gaze. Chapter Five explains how cosplayers perform scripted cosplay identities while embodying their cosplayer identity to distinguish themselves as a performer and a participant of the subculture, and how role-play is optional in the performance for an audience as the performance can be completed through photography. 3 These themes illuminate the social structure operating within the cosplay subculture. As cosplay takes place in spaces that are scripted, organized and developed by cosplayers into performative spaces, this paper concludes with a newfound understanding of how alternative interpretations of performance and the gaze exist in the cosplay subculture.
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses (Restricted)

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