English With History Personal Statement - For 2016 Entry
The subjects that I wish to study at university are History and English, with the view to ultimately becoming a teacher. I have chosen to study History not only because it's a subject that has always been a favourite of mine, but also because of the skills that you gain and develop like critical thinking and making the most use of time and resources. To me, History is imagining myself in the different situations that I am presented with, to try and understand them further. I have experienced this since childhood when my parents took me to world heritage sites such as castles and manor houses where I have walked around and found myself being captivated by the thought that over 100 years ago people were living there. I like to imagine what was going through their minds when their community was suffering from the plague, or under attack and how they would have dealt with the fact that they could have lost their lives at any minute, whether from an illness or fatal wounds in battle.
History is continually extending, meaning that there are constantly more opportunities to learn and understand the world through the past. I have always been particularly interested in medieval and early modern history because I have enjoyed learning about different monarchs and the lives of the people of those particular eras at A-Level. I would love to carry on learning more about medieval and early modern history; however I'm also looking to study new topics. What I'm also anticipating is developing the knowledge I already have in more depth and improving my critical thinking skills. I have chosen to study English with History as a joint degree not only because they're both subjects equally close to my heart, but also since they allow me to develop similiar skills.
When considering English Literature, many of my favourite novels have been based on key historical events, such as Of Mice and Men (the Great Depression) while The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and The Book Thief were about the Nazi regime in World II. The Book Thief featured a girl around the same age of me, this allowed me to connect with her and become empathetic in her situation.
When studying English Language, I have had an interesting opportunity to study the changes in the English language over the last 150 years and how it differs to contemporary speech or writing. Therefore I feel that the skills that I have learnt in History have supported this. I have always loved reading since I was very young. Using my imagination in response to texts transports me to another world and I love connecting with the characters and the settings in the story. Having read books from many different genres and periods, including the Harry Potter series, Pride and Prejudice and Gone Girl, I have had the chance to explore the changes that are presented in each book.
I have particularly been fond of novels that are set in different eras and societies, such as Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby. Analysing English and History also helps me understand contemporary society and the changes in attitudes over the years concerning how we treat others, how we talk, write and how we interpret the world. When studying English, I have had the opportunity to read and analyse interesting and inspiring novels and plays that have shown me differences of opinions that reflect the period in which the text is set.
A key example is when reading Conrad's Heart of Darkness in my first year of college, I appreciated the attitudes towards the indigenous Congolese and how they were treated when Africa was colonised. Reading and analysing this novel reminded me of studying the history of slavery at secondary school and seeing the familiarities of the themes, such as exploitation, so once again, they were clearly linked together.
I believe that my knowledge of the subjects combined with enthusiasm and dedication will be very useful in undertaking a English with History degree at University.
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