Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Aaron B. Retish


The “mass shooting” has become a major hallmark of everyday news and discussions in mass media. Through the lens of two specific cases, this research situates the mass shooting within a few preexisting historical continuities and disciplines. The mass shooting is read as a communicative media event, and is considered from the perspective of mass media proliferation, political violence, discourse, semiotics, and turn of the century cultural antagonisms. The methods employed herein are textual analysis, rhetorical analysis, and post-Marxian models of historical causation.

The mass shooting is an outgrowth of global consolidation and proliferation of mass media. The mass shootings considered herein are communicative acts which articulate specific positions, intelligible along the spectrum of notable cultural antagonisms in the neoliberal world, including feminism vs. antifeminism, and multiculturalism vs. ethnonationalism. It is argued that these debates form mutually cohesive and complementary ideological systems, and that a focus in political discourse on cultural conflicts as opposed to questions of political economy has a clear historical basis in the Western world following the end of the Cold War.