Literature Personal Statement Example

Literature acts as a lens through which we can understand and view the world. The world can be a harsh and incomprehensible place, and for me literature helps to show that there is nothing definite, that everything and everyone is full of nuances. Even traditionally evil characters like Satan in Paradise Lost and Medea in Euripides' play present incredibly diverse and contradictory motives, desires and personality that move their characters beyond a devil or a murderess. The best literature reflects my world, time and place changed, back at me, leading me to realise that while historical circumstances change beyond recognition, universal human truths do not. The more I read, discuss and think, the greater my understanding grows; not just of literature itself but of myriad other concepts. Math is said to help one think logically and rationally; in my mind literature helps one think humanly.

Literature of course, is built of language. In addition English, my mother tongue, I have also learned German and French. Learning these languages has helped me to better appreciate the historical construction of English; the way it has evolved under the influence of many other tongues. I learned German in 2006 when I spent six months in Berlin, a terrifyingly wonderful experience. Terrifying because it require plunging into an entirely new and unfamiliar atmosphere --new language; people; school-- but rewarding because I was living in one of the world's most fascinating. In Berlin I saw not only great art and culture, but also a living and continually evolving history, and the way a location has reacted to some of the most cataclysmic events in history.

Back in Toronto, I have become an avid debater and am now the President of my school's debating union. The art of argument is one that I greatly enjoy and simply discussing an issue passionately, whether it be globalisation of the economy or of literature, is tremendously rewarding for me. I often do very well at tournaments, but the most rewarding part of debating is when I can really understand an issue, not just facts and figures, but also the philosophical implications of it. My other great interest is Fine Art, both actively and passively. I love creating works of not just beauty, but also of meaning, to try and convey the same truths that a work of literature does through visual means. I also love to have an artwork give me the same understanding that a novel does. This led me to a Co-op Placement for school last year at an art gallery, where I was responsible for communicating with guests, research and exhibit installation. Also as part of my co-op, I worked with a local artist, for whom I acted as a studio assistant, but more importantly who provided me with invaluable help in developing my own ideas. I have also had the good fortune to have travelled quite extensively. I have recognised Rome as I saw it in Piranesi's etchings and saw the Berlin I read of in Isherwood's memoirs. Travelling has also exposed me to new cultures, customs and sights in a more immediate way than any other media could.

Kafka said 'A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.' Characters like Joyce's Stephen Dedalus with whom I feel immediate affinity, help me understand not only the world, but myself. Like Dedalus, I am a student of literature and art. In addition to two straightforward literature courses, I also take creative writing and media studies, which both allow me to explore different forms of expression. I hope to study English at university so that I can continue to explore the almost boundless amount of literature with other eager students, to discuss, debate and ultimately to better understand our world.

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Personal Statement for Canadian Application to read english at Cambridge or UCL.


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