“Cosplay: The Fictional Mode of Existence” by Frenchy Lunning has been published by University of Minnesota Press.

Flourishing far beyond its Japanese roots, cosplay has become an international phenomenon with fervid fans who gather at enormous, worldwide conventions annually. Here, the author offers an intimate, sensational tour through cosplay’s past and present, as well as its global lure.

Through a culmination of years of personal research on cosplay, and growing out of Lunning’s wealth of scholarship, conference presentations, and cosplayer interviews, “Cosplay” is a unique and necessary examination of identity, performance, play, and otaku fandom and culture in relation to contemporary theories.

With discussions covering construction, masquerades, and community through performance, Lunning presents cosplay as a dynamic and ever-evolving global practice. She combines the fascinating viewpoints of cosplayers with observational, in-depth research on cosplay history and practice, and a deep dive into critical theory involving the modes of fictional existence, in order to understand its global expansion.

Augmented with beautiful photographs, this is an engrossing, lively read that explores a complicated and often misunderstood history and meditates on how cosplay allows its participants to create and construct meaning and identity.

Lunning is professor emeritus of design and cultural studies at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She is founder and director of the Asian and U.S. Mechademia Conferences on Asian Popular Cultures; editor-in-chief of the “Mechademia” book series published by the University of Minnesota Press; and co-editor-in-chief of the journal series “Mechademia: Second Arc.” Lunning is also the author of “Fetish Style.”

“Showcasing provocative theoretical work and data collected at conventions in the United States and Japan since the 1990s, Frenchy Lunning makes a powerful argument for understanding the potential of cosplay and its engagements with fictional modes of existence. With deep implications for the politics of imagination and open and ongoing entanglements in a more-than-human world, ‘Cosplay’ is as passionate as it is timely.” — Patrick W. Galbraith, author of “Otaku and the Struggle for Imagination in Japan”

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