Princess Diana’s death

You will write a seven-eight page (approx. 1,500-2,000 words), research-based, informative, and argumentative essay, in which you focus on one conspiracy theory (or multiple conspiracy theories if they connect to a larger subject–like mass shootings, pandemics, war, religion, etc.). You are required to have at least 8-10 sources for this essay (you may use sources from this Unit but it is not mandatory). There is more information on sources later in the Prompt.

The Purpose of this Essay: By synthesizing the ideas of two or more writers to create a broader understanding of an issue on a topic, the purpose of this essay is to inform your audience about a conspiracy theory and make an argument about how this conspiracy has impacted society. You will also be analyzing the sources you are utilizing. To help you create and formulate your thesis and argument (once you decide on your topic), I would suggest answering the following questions. They should also be addressed throughout your essay, but please do not organize your essay as if each paragraph is answering a different question.

Questions:

  • When was your chosen conspiracy theory created, and how long has it been going on for?
  • What are the main points or parts of this theory?
  • Who and/or what started this theory?
  • What types of effects has this conspiracy had on society?
  • Are there certain groups or types of people that are more susceptible to believing or being harmed by your chosen conspiracy theory?
  • Is there any truth to this conspiracy? Explain.
  • What should be done by social media, the individual, or other groups to prevent these conspiracy theories from spreading and further impacting society?

Writing a Strong Argument: Keep in mind, to build an effective argument, you need to present the best positions/claims, which support your ideas as well as demonstrate why the best positions against your ideas (the counter argument) are insufficient. Also, the more articles you read, the more familiar you will become with this subject, so even if you already have certain ideas about conspiracy theories, try to be open to diverse perspectives and ideas. In the end, this will make you an effective critical thinker.

There are no restrictions, but I would encourage you to choose one that is more recent (say, in the past 10-15 years). Also, in the past, the most popular choices were the JFK shooting, Princess Diana’s death, and Area 51 (aliens), so you might consider doing a more original project.

Requirements for Sources: (8-10)

  • Your essay must have at least seven credible/reliable sources
  • You must include at least two articles from the electronic databases (they can be accessed through the library’s homepage)
  • You can use magazines, newspapers and books
  • Limit your use of general websites (Yahoo, CNN, etc.)
  • Do not use general encyclopedic works (e.g., the dictionary, the Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia) in your essay
  • You may also conduct interviews and perform surveys
  • Start researching as soon as possible

Guidelines for Sources

  • As information is to knowledge, so too is a “report” to a “research essay.” You are not writing an extended summary of sources; rather, you are writing a persuasive essay in which sources are used to support your claims.
  • You must make an argument in this essay, not merely summarize facts.
  • Analyze your sources thoroughly from a persuasive standpoint (this is where the rhetorical analysis skills come in handy) to determine their usefulness and credibility. If you do not know the author or origin of a source, if you do not thoroughly understand a source, do not use it! Don’t jeopardize your credibility.
  • Remember, don’t let the sources overtake your paper (too many statistics or technical jargon is not the best for your ethos)

In the end, a successful essay should have:

  • A thoughtful, analytical and persuasive purpose
  • A thesis statement which makes a claim about your topic
  • Cohesive, focused, body paragraphs with topic sentences that support your thesis
  • At least seven credible sources (but not more than ten (see requirements above)
  • Summaries, paraphrases, and direct quotations of your sources
  • A Works Cited page and in-text citations using MLA format
  • A logically progressive structure
  • Audience awareness (persuade and educate your readers)
  • A consistent style (sentence variety, minimal repetition, engaging and meaningful word choices) and an appropriate tone (more formal and tempered—not arrogant or preachy)
  • Few grammatical errors
  • 7-8 pages typed (this does not include your Works Cited page), double-spaced, and formatted in MLA style
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