Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Sara Dykins-Callahn, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Daniel Belgrad, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Belgrad, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrew Berish, Ph.D.


Cosplay, Non-Place, Social Dramas, Subcultures


The performance of identity is an often studied subject matter. One identity, Geek, and the larger subculture to which it is attached (Geek culture) has become a growing field of study in since the turn of the millennium, mirroring the growth of the subculture itself. The question then is how do Geek's perform this identity and create an idea of what a Geek is? If there is a place to examine this performance then it is the growing event of comic book conventions. At these events thousands of individuals gather to celebrate, interact with, purchase and play with the commodities of Geek; comic books, video games, anime, manga and film. In this space, as I will discuss, the spectrum of performance as outline by Richard Schechner in Performance Theory occurs in simultaneous forms inside the convention. While there is ritual, there is also play, and theater, and all three may be occurring at any one time through any one individual. This is partially brought on by the presence of cosplayers, convention attendees who dress up as fictional characters, and perform a separate role that also speaks to their own identity. Furthermore, the presence of what Victor Turner terms social dramas in the space of the panel discussion complicate and re-form not only individual identities, but also Geek culture identity as well.

Underlying the interaction of identity with space/place is the, as Marc Agé terms it, non-place nature of the convention center itself. That the convention center does not bear the trappings of a typical anthropological place (such as history or tradition) influences the impact of the performance and the identity created therein. Consequently, the identity held will be challenged by the temporary nature, not just of the event, but also the place which contains it. I attended two comic book conventions in the state of Florida to examine this phenomena using my own experience as part of the study, as well as interviewing other convention attendees and people within my group. I will move through the space of the conventions exploring my personal relation to the identity of Geek and how others perform the identity while trying to explore what does it mean to be Geek?