Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Hall, Ann

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Gagne, Patricia

Committee Member

Gagne, Patricia

Committee Member

Story, Kaila

Committee Member

Roof, Judith

Author's Keywords

cosplay; performance; gender diversity; gender studies; cultural studies


This dissertation aims to explore how the phenomenon of cosplay has been able to produce and sustain a diversity of gender expression due to its emergence from an activity-based community that emphasizes creative play. This creative energy is manifested through cosplay as an active, ritualized practice in which gender diversity is invited to be realized as a distinct possibility, resulting in a display of a full range of masculinities and femininities as well as crossplays and genderbend cosplays. I argue that cosplay can therefore be understood as a phenomenon that destabilizes the gender binary—its active practice promotes the production and interpretation of gender as being within a spectrum for cosplayers and their audiences alike. I also assert that the degree of diversity of gender expression observed through cosplay at fandom conventions is better accounted for as social change achieved through ritualized practice rather than as a subversive performance. This dissertation hopes to demonstrate that the sustainment of diversity of gender expression hinges upon the interdependent relationship between a ritualized, repeated practice and the individuals, community and space that promote it.