English Literature and History
Submitted by Emily
Many significant individuals from the past have shaped the makings of our society today; from Emmeline Pankhurst’s suffragette movement in 1888 to Chaucer’s futuristic outlook on societal norms within the 1300s, both are of up most importance in characterising modern day attitudes towards women. It is simply vital that we examine historical evidence in order to gain an intrinsic understanding of who we are and how we got here. Studying both English Literature and History at university will enable me to broaden my understanding of the various perspectives of the past, whilst gaining the ability to analyse and articulate my own arguments. To me, studying literature provides a clear insight into the ways in which people think and imagine, whilst allowing us to step wholeheartedly into the author’s mind. I am excited by the prospect of exploring different institutions of society; studying History and English will ultimately give me the different points of comparison necessary to understand the nature of the present.
Aphra Behn’s ‘The Rover’ sparked my interest in the portrayal of women in historical literature through the brutal objectifying of Angelica and the unconventional independence of Hellena in the Seventeenth century. This encouraged me to participate in a Women’s march in London in January 2017, which highlighted the importance of female literary figures in shaping current societal views towards women. It demonstrated how the contemporary issue of equal rights is still prevalent and allowed me to be part of an active movement towards creating meaningful social change on a broader scale.
Similarly, I have relished the opportunities that ‘Wolf Hall’ has provided to explore the Tudor Period from both a historical and literary perspective. Engaging with the arguably villainous or forward looking Thomas Cromwell made me realise how history is intertwined with the fabric of humanity. I am currently exploring the extent to which interwoven stories make up characters pasts in ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ and ‘Waterland’ in my Personal Investigation. The mediation of both personal and public history pervades both novels and I am enthralled by the prospect of understanding how the history of the Fens and the spectre of slavery characterises each novel and the protagonists within them.
Beyond my formal education, I have experienced a wide variety of vocations. I developed a keen interest in the legal profession through my extensive reading of Dickens’ 1850s novel ‘The Bleak House’. This inspired me to gain further knowledge through a mini pupillage at Furnival Chambers with a criminal barrister who I observed on a day-to-day basis. This eye-opening opportunity gave me an insight into everyday legal proceedings and has now led me to consider Law as a possible career pathway.
Further to this I have experience of a global marketing, media and data business, having completed work experience at UBM plc, where I attended one of their events and worked across several marketing campaigns. This taught me the importance of language in conveying clear, articulate messages to drive engagement and commercial results within a business.
My understanding of English Literature and History does not merely extend to reading and examining novels; my recent involvement in dramatic works such as ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ has intensified my understanding of the text and the development of language as a whole. Additionally, my distinction at Grade 7 Lamda significantly improved my oral and presentation skills, which enhanced my confidence and enabled me to explore a broader range of texts outside the classroom.
What I hope to gain from studying English Literature and History is simply a heightened experience of what I already adore and am immersed in exploring. I hope to delve deeper into literature at its core, whilst understanding the historical context behind it.