"I’m NOT A MONSTER”: A Corpus-Driven Genre Analysis of School Shooter Notes

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  • The increasing incidence of school shootings in the United States has prompted researchers and policy-makers alike to pose questions about the intentions and actions of school shooters (e.g., Lankford, 2016). The scope of previous work has been limited due to a lack of access to perpetrators (i.e., due to their being incarcerated or deceased). This study seeks to access perpetrators' perspectives via an analysis of their written notes. A mixed methods design (Creswell, 2014) combining the methods of Forensic Corpus Linguistics (Coulthard, Johnson, & Wright, 2017; Baker, 2006) and the English for Specific Purposes (ESP) approach to Genre analysis (Swales, 1990) probes the salient linguistic and discursive features represented within school shooters' written notes. Findings indicate the recurrence of generic structures and lexical selections suggesting that school shooters may have shared communicative goals. This study contributes new directions for multidisciplinary work in the study of texts written by violent offenders.

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  • Copyright © 2019 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2019


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