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ENG 111- Essay 3, Cults and Conspiracy Theories

Assignment for Professors Martin and Keltz
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Unit 3 Essay: Researched Argument

Assignment Overview

The Researched Argument, your third major writing assignment in ENG 111 worth 25% of your overall course grade, requires that you analyze either a cult or a conspiracy theory.. This assignment requires three submissions: a topic proposal, a preliminary draft, and a final draft. During this unit, you will gain experience demonstrating critical thought about a current topic, organizing information about that topic, utilizing evidence to build claims, and ensuring that your voice is the guiding and predominant force behind a substantive argument that cites the words of others.

Assigned Topic Choices:

Choose only one of the following three essay prompts:

  1. What is a cult and why do people join them? Research one specific cult to explain how cults work and why people not only join but remain loyal to them.  Possible choices include the following cults: NXIM, Children of God (AKA Family International), Twelve Tribes, God’s Salvation Church, Congregation for the Light, the Brethren, Heaven’s Gate, Kashi Ashram, Superior Universal Alignment, Raëlism, The People’s Temple.
  2. What is a conspiracy theory and why do people believe them? Research one specific conspiracy theory to explain how these theories work and why people believe them. Possible choices include the following conspiracy theories: Area 51, Illuminati, Chemtrails, Black Helicopter Theory, MK Ultra, Chappaquiddick, the FDA holds the cure to cancer, lizard people control politics, the CIA developed crack, the existence of cryptids, the government allowed 9/11.

Assignment Requirements

  • Compose an essay no less than five, double-spaced pages in length. This total does not include your Works Cited page, which must begin on a new page.
  • Include as support for your argument at least one quote (or paraphrased idea) from each of the required five sources.
  • Develop a thesis that conveys your argumentative purpose and/or your answer to your chosen essay prompt.
  • Develop your arguments within the essay body by way of explanation and exemplification — concrete, detailed, and coherent reasons and examples that demonstrate the logic and significance behind your argument.
  • Identify and apply the conventions of 9th edition MLA format and accurate MLA documentation, including attribution (signal phrasing), in-text citation, and a Works Cited page. I also require use of 12-point, Times New Roman font.
  • Avoid use of 1st or 2nd person (“I,” “we,” “us,” and “you”). This assignment asks for a response based on research found in the source material, and you should strive to write in an academic voice that uses third person only.
  • Avoid personal narrative and opinion-based development (i.e. “I believe,” “I think,” “In my opinion,” etc.). All ideas must be well-supported with logical explanation, details, connections, and evidence from the required source material.
  • Use all stages of the writing process to develop a final draft that demonstrates your ability to incorporate standard, academic, writing conventions (see rubric)

Source Requirements

You must find a total of five sources that meet the following requirements.

  • One credible video or podcast source
  • Two library database sources
  • Two credible internet sources (which could include a second video or podcast)
  • Because we cover the assigned topics (cults and conspiracy theories) in weekly course material, you may not use any of the sources that we have provided throughout this Unit. All sources referenced in your essay must be found (by way of research)

There are five steps in the research process.

The Research Process

1. Identify your topic
2. Develop search terms
3. Conduct a search
4. Evaluate information
‚Äč5. Cite your sources