Conspiracy Theories

Paper Requirements: three pages (recommended 800-1000 words, no more than 1200 words).
1. Select a specific ‘conspiracy theory’ identified in three news articles published within the past 30 years.
2. Drawing on relevant scholarship, identify and analyze the dominant frame used by news media when reporting on this conspiracy theory. You are welcome and indeed encouraged to develop your own theory of framing. You may develop your analysis in alignment with or in distinction to the claims of scholars writing on conspiracy theories, paranoid thinking, or counter-hegemonic movements.
3. Construct an argument explaining your theory of how and why the specific conspiracy theory is framed in the three articles you have selected. You may opine on the possible consequences (good or bad) or this framing.
4. Introduce and explain at least three quotes from relevant scholarship. You may draw these quotes from course readings, supplementary readings available on the courses, or outside readings. These may come from a single source or multiple sources.
5. If you wish, you may swap up to two published news articles for television news segments addressing your selected conspiracy theory.
6. You do not need to provide a description of the conspiracy theory beyond what is provided in the three news articles. Only do this if your theoretical analysis relies on outside information about the conspiracy theory.
7. Include a Works Cited section (does not count toward word limit).

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For newspaper and magazine articles, I’d suggest starting with ProQuest Major Daily NewspapersLinks to an external site., available through the UC Berkeley LibraryLinks to an external site. (“conspiracy theory” returns over 65,000 results). You may also find sources online, but be careful to distinguish between published sources with online distribution (good) and online-only sources (bad). The key here is to find articles and stories written by professional journalists and commentators as this will help you analyze the “official” framing of a so-called “conspiracy theory.”
For tracking down useful scholarship, I’d suggest starting with the following reading from Week 9: Butter, Michael and Peter Knight – “The History of Conspiracy Theory Research” in CTATPWBT.pdf. You can find several of the sources mentioned in this chapter in the CT Supplementary Readings folder in Files.

Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them (2019) has been fully digitized and many of the chapters in this edited volume can be useful for developing your theoretical analysis. For more information on Conspiracy Theories check out :

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