English Literature Personal Statement Tsrtc

(Original post by LeviosaNight)
So i've only recently got into classics because i haven't come across any good classic authors before, but now i'm told i have to start writing my personal statement and there's really only one book I can talk about and a play that i've seen...so this gives me total a of two literature works to use in my entire personal statement.

i'm really uncertain about what to do. Should I go read quick, short stories so I can throw in more works into my personal statement?

You've still got time - even if you are applying for Oxbridge, you've got until 15th October. That's lots of time to read something. Look at uni reading lists to get an idea of the sorts of things to focus on
and is it a huge mistake to mention what got me into reading (Narnia, Little Women, etc), or should I avoid it at all cost?

it's best to avoid mentioning common books like this, and also best to focus on recent things (i.e. last two years at most)

Also, I'm interested in creative writing, i've spent a lot of time on it, but i haven't actually finished anything i'm proud of, plus i've done nothing with it in terms of publishing/competition...should i mention it anyway? :/

I'm guessing you aren't applying for courses with a creative writing element? If so, you can mention it briefly, but a sentence or two at most - with the extra curricular activities

English Personal Statement 15

What fascinates me about literature is that it is one of the greatest forms of expression and manipulation. Literature can not only reflect and change the course of history; it can also have a profound emotional impact on the individual. In the words of E. M. Forster, great literature "transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote". I have experienced this with many of the works that I've read, in particular Jack Kerouac's 'On The Road'. The pulsating, romanticised descriptions of Dean, "a burning shuddering frightful Angel", made it impossible for me to dislike him. It is my love of reading and enthusiasm for close analysis and study which make English the subject that I wish to pursue.

I read widely for pleasure and have explored a range of periods and genres, from Thomas More's 'Utopia' to modernist short stories such as 'Miss Anstruther's Letters'; reading Rose Macaulay's harrowing exploration of loss and decay, framed by her own personal experiences, seemed almost intrusive. I have enjoyed works by Auden, Scott Fitzgerald and Joyce; the parallels between Stephen and Icarus in 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' as he attempts to break free from the constraints of his childhood really interest me. I also admire 'Frankenstein' and 'The Turn of the Screw', the former for its subversive political voice and the latter as a Gothic exploration of the psychological versus the actual.

I am developing an interest in the works of Shakespeare. His plays are to me not only forms of art and escapism in themselves but also deeply thought provoking: 'The Tempest', for example, raises questions of morality and parenthood. I find Shakespeare's essential ambiguity appealing: his work, like that of More, encourages the audience to form their own opinions on complex characters and ideas. Watching 'As You Like It' in performance at the Globe Theatre opened up new interpretations which I hadn't imagined from reading the text. Interestingly the character of Jacques was played by a woman, which seems fitting for a play so concerned with gender roles.

My A Level English studies have been enjoyable, especially the theme of tragedy. I lean towards Bradley's view that Othello is one of Shakespeare's most romantic characters, but feel that there is some truth in Leavis's analysis of his flawed character. Arthur Miller's focus on "the heart and spirit of the average man" inspired me to read more of his work. As a keen follower of current affairs and a member of my local university debating society, I was drawn to the political nature of his plays: their damning critique of capitalism and its consequences for ordinary people is disconcertingly relevant. A study of the pastoral genre this year has introduced me to the haunting realist works of Hardy; the idea of nature in 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' as a conspirer in human suffering struck me as chillingly fatalistic.

As well as going to the theatre whenever I can, I am a member of a county orchestra and play the piano and clarinet to Grades 5 and 8 respectively; I have also been a peer mentor and chair of the school council, actively campaigning for student issues. My work experience at a local school for children with severe learning difficulties was immensely rewarding and I have since returned as a volunteer. The role requires commitment, patience and maturity, attributes which I feel will be invaluable to my university studies.

I enjoy studying History as a companion to English: the context and reception of a work of literature can reveal much about its significance. I also hope that my A Levels in French and German will be useful to me when studying Old and Middle English. The Oxford and Cambridge summer schools in English Literature introduced me to undergraduate level work, which was challenging and stimulating. Academic intensity comes naturally to me; my zeal for literature underpins its intrinsic value in my academic and personal life.

Universities Applied to:

  • University of Oxford (English Language and Literature) - Offer (AAA) Firm
  • Bristol University (English) - Offer (AAB) Insurance
  • Durham University (English Studies) - Offer (A*AA) Declined
  • University of Leeds (English Literature) - Offer (AAB) Declined
  • University College London (English Language and Literature) - Rejection

Grades Achieved:

  • English Literature (A2) - A*
  • History (A2) - A
  • French (A2) - A
  • German (AS) - A

Article by TSR User on Thursday 15 February 2018


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