Yesterday I submitted the last assignment required for my MA coursework. I guess that means I'm half-way done my degree. I'll be spending the summer working on my French and preparing for my thesis. Over the past semester, I've been posting excerpts from paper proposals, and I thought it might be worth linking to them here as a way of wrapping things up.
I wrote two essays that dealt extensively with the work of Walter Benjamin. This research strategy ended up saving me a lot of time and effort. One essay focused on Benjamin's methodology of historical materialism in order to engage questions of cultural memory--raised by poststructuralism (most notably in Derrida's Archive Fever and Foucault's Archaeology of Knowledge)--summed up in the figure of the archive; the other essay was an attempt to convince my deluded professor that there was more to recover from Benjamin's discussion of literature than its "inherent" power to "defamiliarize" readers. See related posts here and here.
My third and final essay developed out of a class on Shakespeare that brought his early modern representations of class into conversation with the return of the commons we're witnessing in contemporary theory. My paper drew on Cesare Casarino's discussion of the common, as well as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's redefinition of love (as a force of ontological becoming witnessed in the collective solidarity of the poor) from their 2010 book Commonwealth, in order to address the apparent class transitions that occur in King Lear and Timon of Athens. See related post here.
I'm not sure whether these papers ended up being successful, but the readings they allowed me to do were absolutely worthwhile.