Frenchy LunningApr 4, 2023
The Fictional Mode of Existence
University of Minnesota Press 2022
Cosplay, a portmanteau of “costume” and “play,” emerged from geeky Japanese subcultures to become a popular hobby, and even profession, around the world. Frenchy Lunning dives into the reasons why people cosplay through interviews, pictures, and her own firsthand experience of cosplay events in America and Japan. She distills the essence of cosplay to performance and the negotiation of identity, a pair of concepts that she interrogates in part by contrasting cosplay practices in America and Japan.
Cosplay: The Fictional Mode of Existence (U Minnesota Press, 2022) is livened with extensive photographs and fascinating tidbits about key figures in cosplay, such as Mari Kotani. Cosplayers are allowed to speak for themselves, describing what cosplay means to them and how they use it to negotiate their social roles and identities in fascinating detail. Lunning layers individuals’ testimony on a history of cosplay that highlights the changing settings, technologies, and communities supporting cosplay over the decades to leave readers debating what role cosplay will play in the construction of future identities.
Frenchy Lunning is Professor Emeritus of Liberal Arts at Minneapolis College of Art and Design and has written two books: Subcultural Fashion: Fetish Style (2013), and Cosplay: The Fictional Mode of Existence (2022). She is working on a third book, Revolutionary Girl: Shōjo. The director of the US- and Japan-based academic conferences Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures, she is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the new biannual Mechademia: Second Arc journal.
Amanda Kennell is an Assistant Teaching Professor of International Studies at North Carolina State University. Her book, Alice in Japanese Wonderlands: Translation, Adaptation, Mediation, is forthcoming in July 2023 from the University of Hawai’i Press. It examines the contemporary media environment through Japanese adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland novels.