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Critical Rhetorics of Race$
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Michael G. Lacy and Kent A. Ono

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814762226

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814762226.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2021

Tales of Tragedy

Tales of Tragedy

Strategic Rhetoric in News Coverage of the Columbine and Virginia Tech Massacres

(p.47) 2 Tales of Tragedy
Critical Rhetorics of Race

Cynthia Willis-Chun

NYU Press

This chapter explores intersections of race, nationality, class, and heterosexuality in news coverage of the 1999 Columbine High School and 2007 Virginia Tech shootings. In many ways, the media portrayed the killers as troubled loners bent on destroying the individuals who contributed to their alienation. Media discourse also constructs the killers as socially deviant, using race, nationality, and sexuality to do so. By aligning violence with urban cities, depicting suburban college campuses as idyllic, and rendering the racialized masculine killers as out of place, media discourse draws attention away from examination of the social and cultural basis for violence and distress. Thus, more consideration should be given to the killers' tactical rhetorics, as their self-representation offers a unique opportunity for scholars to understand how the men viewed themselves within systems of power rendered visible through their bloodshed.

Keywords:   Columbine shootings, Virginia Tech shootings, alienation, violence, racialized killers, media discourse, tactical rhetorics

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