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English Literature & History Personal Statement

If culture has a gravitational effect on my mind, then History and Literature are supermassive black holes; they have defined my choice of hobbies and media, nexus to an eclectic collection. My most memorable experience of this was with a minor documentary series on the History of Non-Euclidean Geometry. So far removed from everything I had studied before, I was nevertheless prepared to listen for the sake of worldliness. My initial impressions were wrong, for that pocket of time I was enthralled by the historical and literary canon of Euclid and his successors. One thing remained true, geometry being beyond my faculties, yet the infusion of culture into the topic sparked my enthusiasm in a way I had never anticipated.

Stemming from my Cornish roots, I have developed an enduring love of Celtic History, with emphasis on movements of Celtic language revival and nationalism. Selecting it as the topic for my Extended Project Qualification, I have considered and compared academic sources, evaluating the prominence of Celtic languages in their respective nations and Pan-Celticism. With individual attention on the move from cosmopolitan linguistic circles to the contemporary pedagogical influence growing in the nations themselves, commented on by Charles-Edwards and Belchem.

Appreciating other cultures allows us to better examine our own, something I have found in studying Continental Literature alongside that of the British Isles. In the comedy of manners Gigi by Colette, courtesan life emerges as a volatile dependency which requires a cynical sociolect of innuendo. Whereas in epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther the destructive potential of an all-consuming love is shown. Its author Goethe influenced German culture massively, elevating the proto-Romantic Sturm und Drang literary movement and attracting controversy as the Werther Effect was born. Each novella developed my understanding of the Romantics, Shelley even includes the latter in Frankenstein. Applying them to the Brontë Literature of my A Level coursework, I noticed that Wuthering Heights developed a narrative of unrequited love with Gothic elements and that the portrayal of Victorian values in Jane Eyre juxtaposed the ones of the modern Parisienne Gigi.

In examining empire and the nation I have gained greater understanding of melting pot and mosaic states. My reading of Orlando Figes' A People's Tragedy was an enlightening study, detailing the effects of the revolution on the former Russian Empire until the end of Lenin's reign over the new Soviet Union. Alongside this, Plutarch's The Fall of the Roman Republic has given me insight into the rise of despotism and collapse of democratic systems. Each expanded my understanding of political culture and using autonomy to secure power in volatile times.

Learning and teaching Kernewek is an incredibly rewarding undertaking for me; combining my love of linguistics, etymology and Celtic heritage. By deconstructing Nicholas Williams' Desky Kernowek, I have navigated the complex orthographies of the revival to create an educational programme for conversational Cornish. Including a comprehensive pronunciation guide and basic vocabulary course, members of the community have benefited, notably a friend whom I personally teach.

Volunteering at the Mid-Devon Show, for four consecutive years I have stewarded at the main ring, witnessing and working alongside the local equestrian, motor and livestock talent. Connecting with the centre of community events was always fulfilling.

On the whole, I am dedicated to my health and fitness, exercising regularly at the gym as well as playing badminton twice over the week. My creative pastimes include playing piano and designing several community projects. Otherwise, I meditate on reading such as Prisoners of Geography or The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. In conclusion, Literature and History have defined my character, and I hope to continue with them as a teacher one day.

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Course: English Literature & History

Responses Received:
Aberystwyth University - BBB or 120 Tariff Points
Swansea University - BBB
Keele University - BBB or ABC
University of Buckingham - BBB
University of Chichester - BCC

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