Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Ashley Holmes

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Harker

Third Advisor

Dr. Ethan Tussey


The following thesis aims to illustrate how Enlightenment-era conceptions of taste as discussed in the writings of David Hume and Hugh Blair appear in the toxic rhetoric espoused by some members of the cosplay community on the social media platform TikTok. Through an analysis of a representative comment section, this study identifies how Hume’s idea of a “true judge” and Blair’s belief in the improvable and “correct” qualities of taste are utilized in an attempt to justify one of the most distasteful behaviors within today’s society – racism. In drawing these connections, this research illustrates a complex duality of taste and demonstrates how toxic comments use taste, albeit unintentionally, to support their arguments for why one thing is regarded as being better – or more tasteful – than another.


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