Classics and English Personal Statement

Although Shakespeare tells us otherwise, when Wilde says that "It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors." it is his position towards which I am more inclined. The value of literature is not solely that it mirrors the lives of Aeschylus in 5th century Athens or Murakami & 60s Japan, but that these works show us ourselves too. The works of classical authors offer invaluable insights into a world and culture that is at once both our own and entirely alien to us today. While Ovid's observations on seduction are no different to those propounded by modern dating experts, Plato's ideas of ideal governance are so far removed from our current models as to seem abhorrent.

For me, the true fascination of the ancient world lies in its interactions with our own; everything from the classical allusions scattered through Shakespeare to the Ciceronian touches in the speeches of Barack Obama. My study of English and world literature has not only helped me to appreciate great works, but to explore their debts to the classical period; an example being Death of a Salesman, which explores modern themes through classical motifs and structures. In studying these interactions we can understand ourselves in relation to another both distant from and irresistibly part of us.

I am an enthusiastic and hard-working individual, working weekends at a restaurant during the academic year, in addition to working the past 3 summers; this year taking up an internship with The British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels as an events co-ordinator, where I updated and edited the company's membership directory in addition to preparing networking events. This introduction to work has taught me both time management skills and the necessity of graft & determination to achieve goals.

I spent a fortnight this summer at the London Summer School in Classics at King's College London, studying Classical Greek, which I found to be an enriching and stimulating experience, as it introduced me both to the rigours of high intensity learning, and also to the independence and flexibility of a university-style learning environment. My verve for the language is such that I now take extra classes outside of the regular school timetable.

My particular interest is for classical theatre, particularly the power and relevance to modern life of the issues raised in Greek tragedy, which I furthered through the study of Greek and Roman theatre for the oral module of my PCert Lam, in which I attained a distinction with 94%, the highest score ever attained at my examination centre.

I have a passion in current affairs and politics, having participated in a pan-European Model European Council last spring, leading a team representing the government of Cyprus. This experience was made more challenging by the election of the Cypriot Communist Party to office on our day of arrival. My leadership skills, however, allowed us to quickly adapt our positions to these new circumstances and to achieve all of our new-found goals at the conference.

In addition, I am actively involved in the amateur theatre scene of Brussels, participating both as an actor and technician in numerous productions, most recently King Lear , on top of taking on large roles both on and off stage in school productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Crucible. For the past 5 years I have attended the Festival of European Amateur Theatrical Societies, appearing in award winning productions and this last year as part of the winning stage management team, in addition to operating sound for another production. I also work as a semi-professional video and sound editor, having collaborated with friends on an amateur feature-length film project, scripted by myself.

These experiences have given me not only a broad appreciation of the arts value, but also of their myriad possibilities, possibilities I hope that the study of the literature, both ancient and modern will allow me to further explore.

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This personal statement was written by DesEsseintes for application in 2009.

DesEsseintes's Comments

Used to apply to Oxford (Classics & English), Edinburgh (Classics & English Lit.), KCL (Comparative Lit. & Classics) & UCL (Classics)

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