English Literature At University Personal Statement

Sample English Literature Personal Statement

Like many of my generation, my love of literature was originally inspired by Harry Potter. As a non-English reader, however, I was not content to wait for the next Dutch translation and set about teaching myself to read English at the age of 12. Continuing my education in literature through the work of some of the great authors, such as Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, I gained far more than a command of English. I also gained an awareness and appreciation of their subtle art, which drew me into fascinating worlds and experiences as foreign to me as their language. Endlessly re-reading Austen revealed a complex comedy of manners and commentary on social relations as relevant today as it was when it was written; a far cry from the simple love stories implied by a summary of her plots. Encountering English Literature through these works made me realise the truth in C. S. Lewis’ assertion that, “literature adds to reality; it does simply describe it”. My response to literature has matured as I have; ensuring it plays a continuing role in shaping and illuminating my reality, rather than offering mere description.

Needless to say, the challenge of gaining grounding in the literature of another language has fostered an interest in issues of translation. As a keen Tolkien fan, I have been inspired by his essays and translations to learn more about medieval literature, while reading Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf has also inspired an interest in Anglo Saxon literature that has required a grasp of the basic principles of Old English.

It is not only grappling with issues of translation that has proven my dedication to studying English Literature, however. Due to some unfortunate health problems, I also missed a proportion of my final year at secondary school. Despite this setback, I have dedicated myself to gaining the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake undergraduate study in the field. In 2009, I received special permission from the University of Antwerp to study both their first and second year English courses in a single year. I supplemented this in 2010 with several literature courses taken at Oxford University’s Department of Continuing Education. Working towards the study of English Literature for over 10 years, I have also tried to build a foundation of critical knowledge through reading a range of work, such as David Lodge’s The Art of Fiction and Bennett and Royle’s An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory. As a keen poetry fan, with limited opportunity to study it, I also enjoyed John Lennard’s The Poetry Handbook. Encountering both fascinating critical ideas and the works to which they relate, such as the use of voice in the writing of Kazuo Ishiguro, has deepened my appreciation of literature and encouraged me to learn more about the creative mechanics that inspire it.

Literature is also central to my extra-curricular pursuits. For 10 years I took drama and elocution classes at theatre school, including analysing poetry and drama. Exploring my understanding through creative writing, I am proud to say that I have had poems and a short story published in various magazines. A classically trained singer and self-taught pianist, I also collaborated with the composer Frits Celis, writing lyrics for a popular choral work. Organising my local library’s book club, I have recently become passionate about transmitting my love of literature through selecting material and leading discussion.

My passion for English Literature has continually driven me to pursue knowledge of the field, despite difficult personal circumstances. As an inquisitive, eager student and zealous reader, I have demonstrated the ability to pursue this knowledge through my own hard work. Being offered the opportunity to bring together this knowledge, commitment and enthusiasm within a formal educational environment would be a delightful opportunity to deliver on the promise and passion that has driven me thus far.

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English Literature Personal Statement

Literature unites everything that I find exhilarating about life, and most of my spare time is taken up with reading. To me, literature and the written word is mankind's greatest achievement, which is why I am determined to dedicate my life to its study. I am not content with simply reading a text, as I have a hunger to learn everything I can about what I read - how it was written; why it was written; what it means; its place in literature as a whole.

I read a catholic range of literature. I particularly enjoy Romantic poetry, as I find it to be an intriguing example of how literature can be used to make a stand against society's established codes, as poets rebelled against previous literary traditions and, contrary to the doctrines of neo-classical literature, focused on emotions and on the individual. Another example of such a rebellion, and another area of fascination to me, is the dystopian novel of the twentieth century. My favourite examples include Orwell's '1984' and 'Animal Farm', Golding's 'Lord of the Flies' , Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451' and Huxley's 'Brave New World'. Many of these great works were inspired by, and reacted against, the rise of political extremists during the first half of the century. These works are also often highly satirical, a style which I admire and which has lead me to read works such as Pope's 'The Rape of the Lock', Heller's 'Catch-22' and Ben Elton's cynically satirical plays. I also appreciate the novels of Jane Austen, especially the witty Gothic satire 'Northanger Abbey'.

I see literature as both a cause and an effect of history, and so I study history in order to fully appreciate the context of a piece of writing. I find it fascinating how one's knowledge of a historical period can alter one's interpretation of a text. Also, I believe that the study of art can contribute to one's understanding of literary background, for example in the way that Blake's paintings can give an insight into his mind, and thus his poetry. I find that my study of maths is useful as it contributes to my logical and analytical skills, which are vital for the critical appraisal of literature.

At the end of year 12 I attended a ten-day residential course at Eton College to study English literature. The course was designed to be of the same intensity, and of a similar level, to university studies. These were ten of the best days of my life, and made me realise that an English course at university would be perfect for me, and that I would be perfect for it. This course also allowed me to refine my interests in the subject, and to look in detail at areas hitherto untouched-upon in my state school education.

I have completed a work experience placement at a local architects' office, which I feel taught me many life-skills. Seeing the enthusiasm of the people I worked with showed me that it is important to pursue a career in a subject you love. Therefore, although I do not have a definite idea of where I wish to work in the future, I would like to find employment in an area directly related to English, such as in publishing or journalism.

I take part in extra-curricular activities that I feel aid me in my English studies. Being a member of a debating society has increased my discussion abilities, and has taught me how to argue my point while retaining an open mind and being aware of the opinions and interpretations of others. I am a volunteer for a group that helps less-able children to read, as I feel that the ability to appreciate the written word is the most fundamental life-skill that a child can have. I love making music on the guitar and the piano, and I am an avid art-fan. I am part of NAGTY, Young Enterprise and the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

Universities Applied to:

  • Bristol University (Offer)
  • University College London (Offer)
  • Kings College London (Offer)
  • Sussex University (Offer)

Comments

General comments:

The applicant has established the premise that they are committed to the subject, which is perhaps the most important thing to build into a personal statement. The best way of doing this is to define lucid and original examples of how this 'passion for reading', 'hunger for English', etc. manifests itself in your every day life; so out with the hackneyed clichés, and in with real cases. Show your commitment.

A tutor will know that the texts listed in this statement aren't actually that far from the applicant's A-Level syllabus, which is disconcerting to say the least. If you're interested in a subject of literature, you need to ensure you read cogent examples in order to qualify your interest; otherwise it can be seen as a means of name-dropping more than anything else.

Extra-curricular activities are relatively unimportant; tutors would like a nice well-balanced candidate as their student, but they're more interested in those who attain good academic grades and have a passion for the subject. One needs to keep that in mind, so as not to indulge in a resume of irrelevant boasts.

Comments on the Statement:

Literature unites everything that I find exhilarating about life, Such as? The applicant needs to be specific. and most of my spare time is taken up with reading. You're using an awkward syntax; be natural. To me, literature and the written word is mankind's greatest achievement, which is why I am determined to dedicate my life to its study. I am not content with simply reading a text, as I have a hunger to learn Cliché everything I can about what I read - A colon is probably more appropriate here how it was written; why it was written; what it means; its place in literature as a whole. Why the need for semi-colons?

I read a catholic range of literature. You're making some big assertions here I particularly enjoy Romantic poetry Who?, as I find it to be an intriguing example of how literature can be used to make a stand against society's established codes, as poets rebelled against previous literary traditions Don't they always? and, contrary to the doctrines of neo-classical literature, focused on emotions and on the individual Literature before the Romantics did not study the individual, and use emotions?. Another example of such a rebellion, and another area of fascination to me, is the dystopian novel of the twentieth century. My favourite examples include Orwell's '1984' and 'Animal Farm', Golding's 'Lord of the Flies' , Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451' Basic, shallow reading; what about Orwell's lesser known novels? and Huxley's 'Brave New World'. Many of these great works were inspired by, and reacted against, the rise of political extremists during the first half of the century Irrelevant. These works are also often highly satirical, a style which I admire and which has lead me to read works such as Pope's 'The Rape of the Lock' See? Pre-Romantic augustan verse isn't all bad... , Heller's 'Catch-22' and Ben Elton's cynically satirical plays. I also appreciate the novels of Jane Austen, especially the witty Gothic satire 'Northanger Abbey'. An A-Level text

I see literature as both a cause and an effect of history Check your syntax. Literature is 'an effect of history'? Is this what you meant? Be coherent, and so I study history in order to fully appreciate the context of a piece of writing. I find it fascinating how one's knowledge of a historical period can alter one's interpretation of a text You're using a different personal pronoun to describe yourself now. Be careful if you're talking about historical contextualism to Cambridge.... Also, I believe that the study of art can contribute to one's understanding of literary background 'Literary background' is messy; a 'background' is particular to a specific text, not to a literature in general. Avoid bold assertions which can be easily challenged at interview., for example in the way that Blake's paintings can give an insight into his mind, and thus his poetry. I find that my study of maths is useful as it contributes to my logical and analytical skills, which are vital for the critical appraisal of literature. You could make a really good point out of this, but you don't hammer it home

At the end of year 12 I attended a ten-day residential course at Eton College to study English literature Literature. The course was designed to be of the same intensity, and of a similar level, That clause was redundant to university studies. These were ten of the best days of my life Ridiculous, and cliche, and made me realise that an English course at university would be perfect for me, and that I would be perfect for it. This course also allowed me to refine my interests in the subject, and to look in detail at areas hitherto untouched-upon in my state school education. 'Refine' is a verb which indicates some form of prior experience with an issue, so it cannot have been 'hitherto untouched-upon'. And also, it's generally unwise to use archaisms like 'hitherto' in a personal statement

I have completed a work experience placement at a local architects' office, which I feel taught me many life-skills. Seeing the enthusiasm of the people I worked with showed me that it is important to pursue a career in a subject you love. Therefore, although I do not have a definite idea of where I wish to work in the future, I would like to find employment in an area directly related to English, such as in publishing or journalism.

I take part in extra-curricular activities that I feel aid me in my English studies. Being a member of a debating society has increased my discussion abilities, and has taught me how to argue my point while retaining an open mind and being aware of the opinions and interpretations of others. I am a volunteer for a group that helps less-able children to read, as I feel that the ability to appreciate the written word is the most fundamental life-skill that a child can have. I love making music on the guitar and the piano, and I am an avid art-fan. I am part of NAGTY, Young Enterprise and the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.


Article by TSR User on Thursday 15 February 2018

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