Submitted by Ruby

English Literature

Submitted by Ruby

As someone who often questions why things are the way they are, I am intrigued by the unfixed meanings behind every genre and form of literature, and how they allow for limitless interpretations and debates to emerge from texts. I. A. Richards wrote that, "a book is a machine to think with", and this perfectly captures why I am dedicated to studying English Literature. I recognise literature as a catalyst for new theories and criticisms to develop because reader response is widely unique and unrestricted. For me, the freedom in studying English Literature is that there are no universally definitive answers to which one must conform in order for an argument to be correct; something that genuinely excites me.

I actively explore wider reading beyond the syllabus in order to be a well-rounded literature student. Post-modernism also interests me and upon reading my favourite novel, Jeanette Winterson's 'Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit', my specific interest in feminist and queer theory approaches to literature was ignited. I lean towards the view that oranges serve as a metaphor for gender and heterosexuality, and the novel's exploration of alternative meanings of womanhood and female gender roles fascinates me. Tracing literature from its roots interests me- culturally and in terms of literariness. I want to investigate, and be critical of, all literature.

Awareness of context is key when analysing literature, and studying History has influenced the contextual way in which I receive and interpret texts. Such as, having a wide knowledge of Elizabethan England means that I better understand the contextual limitations and expectations of characters in 'Othello'. The oppression of women that occurs due to the Elizabethan patriarchy is prevalent in the play and interests me because of the way it combines my study of literature with history, and how it relates to feminism through literature.

Beyond my studies, I have participated in an English Subject Masterclass at the University of Cambridge. Stepping into a university environment and experiencing lectures on specialised topics, for example 'the art of essay writing- how does one define a piece of text as an essay?' or 'the significance and presentation of blood and violence in stage productions of Shakespearean theatre' was incredibly thought-provoking. Additionally, I attend broadcasts of National Theatre productions. As one of my favourite books, I was nervous as to how a theatre adaptation of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' would coincide with the unique form of the novel. However, the way in which the show brought the book alive and mirrored its distinct and almost mathematical structure reassured me.

My extra-curricular activities have made me a versatile learner. My time in the Air Training Corps developed me into a confident leader and team player. I achieved the rank of Corporal, a marksman qualification and my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh, as well as competing in regional netball and drill competitions. Additionally, I went on a two-week work experience program to Frankfurt, where I worked in a kindergarten and learnt invaluable communication and independence skills due to communicating almost entirely in German. In 2016 I went on World Challenge to Costa Rica and Nicaragua for one month. I fundraised £3995, and whilst on the trip I completed a 5-day trek and volunteered in a school building a sports hall and teaching pupils. This trip fused my ability to work independently, with my confidence to take on a position of leadership within a group.

I am a dedicated English student who believes that studying English Literature will not only challenge and inspire me, but also will develop my lifelong love of learning; a journey that I cannot wait to embark upon.

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