Urban Princesses: Performance and “Women's Language” in Japan's Gothic/Lolita Subculture


Yale University
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This paper investigates the linguistic strategies used in the counterpublic discourse of Gothic/Lolita, a young Japanese women's subculture of the late 1990s and early 2000s, and explores how the subculture and its practices are characterized by the Japanese media. Particular attention is paid to how subcultural magazines, websites, and Gothic/Lolitas themselves create and sustain a “virtual linguistic community” through a specialized lexicon of neologisms and re-appropriated “women's language,” as well as negative identity practices that seek to define Gothic/Lolita against other subcultures and fashions such as kosupure [“Cosplay” i.e., Costume Play]. Additionally, an analysis of representations of Gothic/Lolita speech in two television programs reveals how the media constructs ambivalent images via iconization and erasure through narration and editing.[youth subculture, gender and language, speech community, counterpublic, Japan]