THE MAKING OF A PRINCESS: THE ROLE OF RITUAL IN CREATING COMMUNITY AND IDENTITY IN THE SOCIETY FOR CREATIVE ANACHRONISM
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Every weekend in the Society for Creative Anachronism, people from the far reaches of the globe leave behind the structures of their everyday lives, dress themselves in clothing from the Middle Ages, and construct medieval personae. Within a pastiche of fantastical and historical influences, participants create the “Middle Ages as they should have been,” a liminal space where they experience a temporary communitas. Through their participation in informal rituals and formal ceremonies, they celebrate each other’s successes and create a community—a utopia—in which courtesy and honor are the shared core values. In addition, through their performances, people access their creative potential and explore issues of identity. When the weekend is over, the participants return to their modern lives, and—for many—a residue of their temporary creative adaptation persists and contributes to a transformation of their person. Using my insight as a participant observer, this dissertation focuses on some of the elements that contribute to the process of community creation and personal transformation.