English Literature Personal Statement
I believe Literature educates on a personal level, humanising historical, political and psychological issues. I read constantly and widely, I enjoy experimenting with language and I believe I have an aptitude for the subject which drives me to achieve. Therefore, I am completely dedicated to furthering my abilities in thinking critically and deconstructing texts through independent research.
To complement English Literature, I chose to study Philosophy and Ethics and I feel this decision has given me strong skills in delivering a structured, coherent argument using reasoning and abstract thought. Teachers have historically said that I needed to contribute more in class and the A level course has given me the confidence to do this.
Literature brings historical facts to life: Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment' painted a grim picture of 19th Century Russian society and the effect of desperation on the human condition. During my Psychology course, we studied Freud which planted an avid enthusiasm for the Psychoanalytical approach to Literature. I explored this further through reading 'Hamlet' and Angela Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber' which sparked my interest in symbolic coming of age tales that relate to Freud's theories of unconscious motives.
Recently, I have become particularly drawn to unconventional narrative styles such as stream of consciousness through reading Woolf's 'Mrs Dalloway.' Encouraged by this excitement for experimental prose, I began to read 'Ulysses' which, whilst being a challenge, was also incredibly rewarding. I found Joyce's depiction of thought patterns hypnotic and the mergence of the formal epic with earthy realism an exciting layering of classical and modern literature. Around this time I read Hermione Lee's biography of 'Virginia Woolf', finding her research so captivating that it confirmed my ambition of one day carrying out my own research.
I am passionate about the writings of Sylvia Plath. 'The Bell Jar' forced me to readdress my preconceived opinions of what mental illness is through its subtle unfurling of Esther's descent. After learning that it was essentially autobiographical I read her unabridged journals which I found to be the most achingly astute observations on life- so ambitiously driven that it is difficult to imagine that she was a young woman maturing in the repressive 1950's. This interest in feminism was increased through studying 'Washington Square' where we focussed on the treatment of women. An inspiring teacher recommended Naomi Wolf's feminist text 'The Beauty Myth' which shocked me into viewing the media in a new light. I was amazed at how differently cosmetic adverts and women's magazines could be understood.
However, my favourite novel is 'Jane Eyre' which I have continuously gone back to after my first reading at aged twelve. To me, Jane is one of the most inspiringly strong heroines in Literature and Charlotte Bronte one of the most forward thinking women of her time. In addition, I was entranced by Christina Rossetti's forceful 'Goblin Market' describing the conflict between her religious fervour and sexuality through sensual descriptions of forbidden goblin fruit.
I try to take advantage of the opportunities available to me as a student. For instance, I recently attended a performance of Frantic Assembly's 'Othello' and I look forward to taking part in a Philosophy trip to Rome.
Throughout my English course I have been able to draw on ideas from my wider reading, enabling me to compare different texts, incorporate philosophical theories, confidently comment on contextual influences and develop specific areas of interest. In the future I would like to teach English Literature at University level as it would allow me to pursue my own research and instil a sense of passion for the subject in others. I am excited at the prospect of University life and studying in depth a subject which I truly love.
This personal statement was written by Anna18 for application in 2009.
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