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

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Carreau, Kathryn




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.






Carleton University

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Master of Arts: 

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies

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Theses and Dissertations

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