English Literature & History Personal Statement Example

Throughout my education, I have constantly been captivated and inspired by my History and English studies. I have recognised how the two disciplines entwine and coexist to create an invaluable tool with which to explore the past and future. To follow my curiosity in these subjects further, I am choosing to continue both at University.

This year I have been given the opportunity to begin an Extended Project for submission in June. Looking specifically at Politics and Literature, I aim to focus my enquiry on key female figures from the Elizabethan, Victorian and Thatcher eras to evaluate their importance in the effort towards the equality of women.

This interest stems from studying how writers have represented aspects of society and its progression throughout history by analysing their works from marxist and feminist critical approaches. For example, my initial impression of 'Pride & Prejudice' was that Austen's ridicule of society's 'universally acknowledged' rules was radically satirical at a time of female repression.

However, as Emily Bronte aptly wrote, the world of Austen is a ‘carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden’, whereas she presents a far more optimistic view of female independence, both socially and romantically, through the actions of her protagonist in ‘Jane Eyre’. In further reading I have found that this feminist stance – albeit subtle to a contemporary audience – is far more agreeable than the sexually explicit style of 'The Bloody Chamber'.

Though Carter presents a modernised view of inequality in the innovative form of gothic-tainted fairy tales, at times she characterises women in contradictory anti-feminist roles rather than the heroine the reader would expect. I relish these conflicts of ideologies within Literature, and look forward to being introduced to a wider spectrum of writers and genres in the future.

Furthermore, I find that one of the most enjoyable aspects of studying Literature is learning of the context that surrounds it. I have become particularly fond of novels from the romantic era, which are filled with references to the realisms of 19th Century society. At GCSE level, the unit of 'Medicine Through Time' not only allowed me to learn of medical discoveries spanning from the Prehistoric era to the First World War, but also to deeply analyse the developments made during the Industrial Revolution.

My interest in Biology augmented my fascination in investigating medical advances and their impact on society – particularly the controversies of Jenner's 'ungodly' vaccination, and how civilian propaganda was so effective in enforcing fear into the public.

Conversely my study of the Russian Revolution for AS was an equally rewarding experience. From it, my understanding of international affairs and of the social, economic and political concepts of the early 20th century has greatly improved.

I was intrigued to learn how entirely regressed Russia appeared, yet how an infant Germany would become hugely prosperous in a matter of years. It is interesting to observe how Germany has returned as a great economic power to dominate the euro-zone, and how – as some may argue – that Russia is again susceptible to a corrupt and unjust government under Putin.

University Open Days have not only made me eager to begin learning such a vast array of historical fields and themes, but have also exposed me to the prospect of professional historical research beyond degree level. Volunteering weekly at the Museum of Oxford – though unfortunately not a research institution – has shown me that this is something I may wish to pursue.

I am also currently considering journalism as a career choice, which arose from my editorial contributions for a marketing campaign during work experience. I learned that although I may continue my interests in the world of History and Literature, media and advertising are also exciting spheres for an aspiring writer.

Profile info

This personal statement was written by Becky_W for application in 2013.

Becky_W's university choices
The University of Edinburgh
University of St Andrews
The University of York
University of Leeds
The University of Stirling

Green: offer made
Red: no offer made

Becky_W's Comments

I found this website SO useful when I was writing my PS, so I thought I should put mine on here too. Let me know what you think/if you have any questions :)

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Whoops...

Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre, not Emily.

Very brave to admit this so

Very brave to admit this so early!:) The explanation given regarding the texts you've studied are expansive and well written, however the universities will know what you studied in the syllabus and that everyone will have been tutored on it. I think this could be improved with evidence of reading outside the texts give, it gives personality and an idea of inclination.

I came back to this to read

I came back to this to read it again after getting into Uni. I can't believe I put Emily instead of Charlotte!! How on earth did I get accepted?! Even with this mistake, I am now studying English Lit + History at Edinburgh Uni :) Becky

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