Dressing and Being: Appraising Costume and Identity in English Second-Language Drama

C. A. DeCoursey


In many cultures, L2 students are reticent to engage in spontaneous oral L2 production. In Chinese culture, social norms tend to place value on accuracy, which tends to inhibit learners from authentic oral use of the target language. The purpose of this study was to consider the impact of costume, as used in L2 drama, on L2 selves, and attitudes towards specific elements of authentic language use. Costume has long been understood as eliciting imagination, and permitting the expression of possible and desired selves. Fashion ensembles of many kinds are experienced as having a semiotic “sparkle”, which wearers connect to their own self, as they imagine and perform possible selves. In this study, 78 second-language actors were asked to write a brief commentary on how they responded to their costume. This qualitative data was analysed using Appraisal analysis, indicating a majority of positive evaluations. It was also analysed using possible self theory. Comments also showed that L2 actors felt that costumes impacted their emotions and imagination of self, which improved their second language use, cultural performance. They felt costume integrated their oral production with their choices of social register, and their paralinguistic and kinetic performance.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/elt.v7n2p131

Copyright (c) 2014 C. A. DeCoursey

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

English Language Teaching       ISSN 1916-4742 (Print)   ISSN  1916-4750 (Online)

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