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Malicious communications: from moves to genres. As part of their project work on the MA in Forensic Linguistics 2014-2015, a group of our students were the first to use the TextCrimes data as the basis for a research project. Sofina Begum Malik, Kelsey Dethlefs, Emily Tauzeeh and Amanda Muscat decided to carry out a genre analysis of a subset of the malicious communications held in the TextCrimes database.
The difficulty with the idea of a genre of malicious communication is that most theories of genre suggest that specific genres arise out of specific communities of practice, and it is of course tricky to identify a community approach in most malicious communications. The students took a random set of about 40 of the letters and analysed the letters to identify common 'moves' across the texts. (For information on moves theory, see e.g. Henry and Roseberry, 2001). Then with a bit of help, they carried out a statistical cluster analysis to discover that the letters fall into four groups that they call "Professional threat", "Personal / unprofessional threat", "Abuse with clear justification", and "Abuse without clear justification." A poster of their work can be found here.