History Personal Statement
I have always cared passionately about my academic endeavours, from reading as widely as possible in my English and history A levels to carrying out an investigating into the antibiotic effects of indigenous poisonous plants in biology. However, what separates history from my other subjects, and so interests me, is the numerous avenues of enquiry available to its students: economic change, political movements and cultural evolution. There are almost no limits, in terms of scope and debate, to a discipline that encompasses every aspect of human affairs. This is why I wish to pursue history at a further level.
Due to the vast nature of this subject I have been stimulated to go beyond the limitations of the A level syllabus and investigate ideas and unanswered questions for myself. Consequently, I have been led to the writings of Peter Clarke, Ralph Milliband, Eric J. Evans and Francois Bedarida which have not only aided my study of twentieth century British history but profoundly influenced my political outlook and decision to join the Labour party.
I have been equally fascinated by works of political science, for example Friedrich von Hayek’s ‘The Road to Serfdom’ and, in contrast, Anthony Crosland’s ‘The Future of Socialism’. Hunting some of the Labour and Conservative initiatives in the 1960s and 1980s back to their conception was particularly rewarding; and it was interesting to consider how the gap is bridged between an idea and its translation into party policy. Reading both E. H. Carr’s ‘What is History’ and Richard Evans’ ‘In Defence of History’ has widened my conceptions of the methods of historians to the extent that Carr’s social paradigms acted as a framework for my African-American civil rights coursework. I look forward to encountering the challenges of historical methodology and technique at university which will no doubt expand my views further and force me to reconsider certain beliefs.
Growing up with an abundance of fiction and non-fiction at home fuelled my passion for reading at a young age and I quickly came to appreciate how English literature can provide another dimension to historical inquiry. Writers such as Ralph Ellison, James Joyce, Charles Dickens and a host of others illuminate the plight of humans in ways which facts and figures cannot. For example, Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ addresses both social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marxism, and the reformist racial policies of Booker T. Washington, in adition to issues of individuality and personal identity.
I have tried to channel this love of reading into helping others through tutoring GCSE English students and programmes with disabled children, as well as writing for and editing the school newspaper. I am currently working as a waiter so that I can afford to travel during my gap year; and, having always regretted not learning a modern language, I hope to learn Spanish in this year out and volunteer in Peru while immersing myself in its rich culture and history. As well as travel and reading, my hobbies include surfing, tennis and drumming, to which I play at grade 8 standard and in jazz and samba bands. These are qualities and passions I would like to share with the university’s social community.
Although my A level syllabus has centred on recent British history I look forward to going beyond this period and exploring the histories of other countries. In gaining a degree in history I hope to be better qualified for a possible career in teaching, journalism or politics, while simultaneously satisfying my appetite for learning which, in the last few years, has known no bounds. Under the guidance of today’s experts, I’m sure such goals can be achieved.
try mentioning some books.