English Literature Personal Statement
To me the study of literature is the study of the human imagination. The written word acts as a gateway between us and centuries of ideas, connecting us with some of the greatest and most eloquent minds in history. For example, William Blake's poetry introduced me to deep philosophical questions on the importance of the natural world, its links to us and the very nature of what it is to be human, ideas I have previously never even considered. The profound effect Blake had directed me in my wider reading; familiarising myself with Wordsworth and Keats increased my critical appreciation of all three. 'Ode to a Nightingale' especially aroused my interest, re-addressing Blakian themes of the beauty of natural world and mans' place within it. Blake also led me to read 'Paradise Lost,' wishing to gain a fuller understanding of the Satan and his rebellion that the Romantics held in such high regard.
Encouraged by this fascination for new thinking and perspectives, Donne came to my attention. 'The Sun Rising' and his meditations particularly induced my respect for his powerful rhetoric and idiosyncratic use of form and language. Donne necessarily brought with him the rest of the metaphysical tradition: Marvell, Vaughan and Herbert. Obviously, when regarded philosophically there is no lack of complex and exhilarating ideas within this group. The intricate, and sometimes slightly odd, use of logic and imagery allows for an infinitely vast array of interpretations; keeping me constantly thinking on the purpose and use of each verse.
This is something I also found whilst reading 'The Wasteland' as background for my A-level War literature unit. Elliot's obscure and counter-intuitive metaphors allow for countless nuances in understanding, making this poem one of the more fascinating I have ever read. Studying the authors, poets and playwrights of the Great War opened my eyes to the importance of literature in understanding vastly different experiences. Although my studies in history have acquainted with the facts, figures and manoeuvres of the Great War, it is only the emotive poetry of Owen, Rosenberg and others and the empathy forced on audiences in the final scene of Journey's End that truly brought home, as far as it can, the horror that was faced, in a way that no history book ever had. Having moved to Manchester at the start of the year, I have become increasingly engaged in the literary scene. Joining the 'English Society' and the 'Art of the Russian short story society' has given me the opportunity to discuss various texts that I would not normally have even heard of, most memorably Gogol's 'The Nose,' a wonderfully aberrant piece of writing, and having previously read 'Dead Souls,' expanded my knowledge of the satire and wit with which Gogol critiques Russian feudal society.
I have tried to take advantage of the drama available in Manchester. So far I have seen performances of 'Henry V' and 'An Ideal Husband' at the Royal Exchange Theatre, both extremely enjoyable and Henry V's prologue especially sparking my interest, touching on the importance of imagination and an active mind in reading literature. Over the summer I also visited the Globe. Seeing productions of Othello and the Merchant of Venice encouraged me to explore more Elizabethan theatre, reading Marlowe's 'Dr Faustus' and 'The Jew of Malta.'
My love of literature was certainly not to the detriment of my other studies or social life. I was awarded the 'Student of the year' prize for my History class and was prefect during my last year in sixth form. I am also an avid runner and play a variety of sports whilst also maintaining an interest in playing guitar.
After attending lectures in English and having discussions with both English students and lecturers in Manchester I feel that studying Literature will provide me with the intellectual stimulation that I require and also, possibly most importantly, with the transferable skills that employers are looking for in the labour market after university.
This personal statement was written by shaggydawg for application in 2000.
used this to apply to do english lit at manchester uni. Got in. Just sticking it up for anyone to use :)