Thursday, January 28, 2010

Research Essay Prompt English 21B Winter 2013

Research Paper

Write a five page, six or more source argumentative essay supported by research. 

Your thesis should be an ARGUABLE claim.  That is, at least half the class should disagree with what you are trying to prove.  (Or at least they conceivably could).  Also, try not to tell us what we already know.

Pick one of the topics from the list below, tell me about the problem and what we should do to fix it, or predict what’s going to happen with it. 

·    Pick an issue that affects your life and look at what Congress and the President have done or will do and what it will do for or to you.  Good choices for issues would be health care, education, or war.
·    Pick a story from Project Censored and verify or update it with additional sources.
·    Energy (how much oil left, what are our alternatives? NOTE: since we already did this for cars, focus on homes or large scale power generation)
·    Health care reform: How will it affect you? Will you have more access to health care? What will it cost you?
·    What does Occupy Wall Street want and are those legitimate concerns?
·    Why are textbooks so expensive and what are some ways to reduce the costs?  What about textbook rentals and open source textbooks?
·    How can we get politicians enact policies that help average Americans instead of just their wealthy donors?
·    Is homosexuality biologically caused?
·    Does “reparative therapy” really cure gays?
·    Anti-bullying programs: what’s the best way to prevent or deal with it? (NOT what it is).
·    Is cell phone radiation dangerous?
·    How far are we from the all robot military like in The Terminator movies? How will this affect foreign policy and war?
·    How serious a threat to us is terrorism compared to other causes of death?
·    What are the psychological effects of war on soldiers and/or civilians?
·    Death penalty: innocence of some sentenced
·    Media consolidation: how many companies and who owns our media and how does that effect the news we see?
·    What is guerilla and/or viral marketing and should it be regulated?
·    What are some ways funeral homes take advantage of their customers, and what can or has been done to stop it?
·    How much could a stalker find out about you online? How can someone protect themselves from cyber-stalkers?
·    How much can and should your boss or potential employer be able to ask about you? Should they be able to ask for your Facebook password?
·    What is Wikileaks, what have they leaked, and what effects are their disclosures having? Is it more positive or negative?
·    Prison rape: causes and solutions
·    What are current domestic terrorist threats and what can be done to reduce them?
·    Was 9/11 preventable or predictable?
·    What were the roles of Saudi Arabia & Pakistan in 9/11?
·    How much does the drug war cost us and what ways have other countries dealt with drug addiction? How successful are they?
·    What role do oil, pipelines, and poppies play in the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya wars?
·    Why don’t Americans have and use mass transit?  What would it take to get us to use it?
·    What is depleted uranium, how is it used as a weapon
·    What mind control research including MKULTRA did our government do and what are the consequences?
·    What is Cointelpro/false flag/agent provocateurs, and the political implications of their use?
·    What does the rest of the world or the Arab World in particular think of the United States?  What can or should we do to influence their opinion?
·    Is Social Security broken? If so, how could it be fixed?  If not, why do we keep hearing it is?
·    How much do we pay in taxes compared to other countries and who gets the most for what they pay?
·    How far are we from a cure for old age?  How long can we extend human life?
·    For more ideas, go to,

Avoid some of the obvious ones like the death penalty or abortion unless you are willing to tackle one of the harder subtopics like defending late term abortions or arguing against the morning after pill.  For more ideas, check the article on your issue in Wikipedia.

Whichever topic you choose, figure out a way to narrow it.

Include a title page, outline, and works cited page at the end.  These don't count toward the five pages.

Your introduction should get the reader interested in your topic and include a clear thesis.

If your issue is not widely known, include background or facts of problem.

Include at least three arguments that support your thesis, and support each of these with research and examples to illustrate your points.

Also include at least one argument for the other side, preferably the best one, and show why it's wrong or not enough to outweigh your argument.

The bulk of your sources should NOT be politicians or opinion makers, but facts, studies, and relevant news stories.

Most of your sources should be from the last three years, and for some topics many will need to be much fresher.

Place a list of works cited at the back of your essay.  Works cited means you actually refer to these sources in your paper.

You should have at least six sources. You may use at most two biased or advocacy sources, and those more for arguments than facts.

Your essay should use MLA format.

Outline & sources due:

First draft due:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wag the Dog & The Matrix Reality Reading Assignments Winter 2013

Read and do margin notes for your assigned article.

On separate paper give the following:

1.     article author
2.     article title
3.     article thesis
4.     4-6 main points
5.     What was (or was going to be) presented to the public?
6.     What happened (or was going to happen) in reality?
7.     What events did this parallel in the movie?
8.     2-3 questions or reactions of your own

Do the same by yourself for homework with The Matrix readings, but leave out question five.

Go to

Follow the 21B link

look for The Matrix links

Print and bring to class ALL of the articles listed for The Matrix below, but ONLY do the instructions above for your assigned reading:

Wag the Dog readings
The Matrix readings
Julio, Jose, Lauren, Ana, Katy

Saving Private Lynch story 'flawed'

Maira, Fernando, Kristen, Brad, David

How Bush Sr. Sold the Bombing of Iraq

Dan, Chelsea, Jairon, Leilani, Olga
U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba
Rico, Jordan, Cassie, Kenny, Jocelyn

Hyping Terror For Fun, Profit - And Power
Onysses, Or, Reef, Pam, Mike, Kevin