English Personal Statement
The study of English has always been my passion, enabling me to challenge my own assumptions about texts, not by seeking unambiguous answers, but rather through the stimulating exploration of diverse thinking and interpretation. Indeed, it is this critical approach that I relish in all my intellectual pursuits, particularly through my other loves of politics and philosophy. Whilst the A level English course gave me the opportunity to explore writers from across the English literary canon such as Vanburgh, Marvell, Carter and the Gothic tradition, my use of them as a springboard for expanding my critical awareness and appreciation led me to the study of the Metaphysical tradition, particularly for its historical and generic context, and the study of the Romantic Movement for its burgeoning philosophy of 'self' and subjectivity. Through examples of both traditions, I have heightened my critical awareness and pursued new perspectives on texts such as the philosophical, political and historical
For me, the writing of Angela Carter exemplifies this juxtaposition of literary, philosophical and socio-historical perspectives
Furthermore, her feminist re-appraisal of what constitutes identity and self allows for the perception of literature in philosophical terms. In keeping with my analytical approach to texts, I am also intrigued by her exploration of female identity in The Bloody Chamber and, in particular, her questioning of the existence of intrinsic prejudice within language or literary form. This interest has been fuelled by my reading of sections of Bartes' 'mythologies' which, as with my developing interest in linguistics and Saussure, is furthering my ability to challenge cultural assumptions within text and explore the development of language in different contexts. Personally, I could never consider literature to be a set, rigid form, devoid of ulterior significance; indeed, as T.S.Eliot has suggested, the context of literature itself changes with each new movement, but retains close relationship with its predecessors
It is the complexity of literary appreciation then, and its inextricable links with other subject disciplines, which attracts me to furthering my studies in these areas. My study of Politics, enhanced through my involvement in the School Debating Society, mock elections and a long held interest in current affairs, has helped me obtain a wide perspective on the shaping of cultural and social contexts. Similarly, my extensive reading of philosophical texts is continuously widening that perspective and shaping my thoughts
Indeed, I see no dichotomy between my love of literature and my interests in political and philosophical thought; on the contrary, I believe they are inextricably linked, contributing to each other
My pursuit of academic interests has not been to the detriment of my contribution to the extra-curricular life of my school. My interest in Drama, for example, is reflected in my regular participation in school plays, although I admit to using this sometimes as an opportunity to further my understanding of the dramatic form. For example, the use of theatrical techniques, the dramatic possibilities of conveying ambiguities of character and the portrayal of class hierarchy were certainly explored by me through my acting in Pygmalion'. Off the stage and out of the classroom, I also play several sports, notably football, and have been an enthusiastic musician. Indeed, I am confident that I have much to offer as a prospective student, not only to academic life but to the university as a whole.
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