Cosplay—a neologism of “costume” and “(role)play”—is one of several modes of embodied participation in media fandom. As cosplayer Vivid Vivka tells us, “It’s dress-up, yes, but it’s so much more” (Linde 2014). American comics, notably superhero titles, are a perennially popular source of cosplayable characters. And yet female and other minority representation within the mainstream Western superhero genre—and pop culture more generally—is notoriously problematic, on- and off-page and screen. With a few valuable exceptions, mainstream superheroes are straight white men living in straight white worlds. Yet despite the absences, exclusions, and periodic hostility, the genre remains popular with minoritarian fans and cosplayers. Indeed, coverage of female cosplayers dominates the scene. Through a broader discussion of cosplay, minoritarian cosplayers resist and reform exclusionary, and often hostile, meaningscapes—text, lived, and fandom. Borrowing from José Esteban Muñoz, “I use the term minoritarian to index citizen-subjects who, due to antagonisms within the social such as race, class, and sex, are debased within the majoritarian public sphere” (Muñoz 2009, 56). It also theorizes connections between cosplay and the superhero genre alongside considering the mechanics behind transporting characters from boundless, fantastical textual realms to a bounded, mundane material realm.

This essay may be found on page 63 of the printed volume.

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