English Literature Personal Statement
Submitted by Sadiya
The study of English Literature is distinctive to every individual. For me, what began initially as a childhood collection of twenty pence books from car boot sales, spiralled into a form of escapism. Literature is an art form and an underrated power; to capture the complexity of our minds in a few hundred words or even a couple of lines is truly special. From the feminist perspectives of Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath to the political criticism of George Orwell, authors of all eras have used their writing to establish a sense of freedom at times where change was so near it almost felt impossible. Writers inspire me and it is this inspiration that will strengthen my desire to succeed not only in my studies but also in the world of literature.
Studying A-level English Literature has allowed me to develop my debating and analytical skills around genres and authors I had never critically explored before. From science-fiction novels to modernist poetry, I became drawn to not only the texts themselves but to the social and political reasoning behind texts like ‘Brave New World’ and ‘Fahrenheit 451’. My interest in society and politics has also developed from studying A-level History; writing critical essays about specific time periods and observing how the nature of the world we live in has changed over the years is staggering. I was privileged enough to see how the effects of social and political change resulted in one of the most devastating events of our history, the Holocaust. In April, I was given the exceptional opportunity to visit Auschwitz concentration camp as an ambassador for the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz Project’. Although the experience was harrowing at times, to sit next to the train tracks where victims were brought into the camp listening to Rabbi Garson recite a beautiful Jewish prayer I felt certain that, despite the amount of hatred and disrespect there is in the world, knowledge and expression will always unite to defeat hostility.
As well as being a lover of literature myself, I feel it is equally important to share my ardour for reading and writing with others. Being part of the ‘Reading Matters’ scheme was fulfilling as I worked with a Year 8 student, helping her to overcome her reading difficulties through independently planned sessions, exploring a variety of plays, novels and poetry. I was able to help build a sense of confidence in my partner, encouraging her to continue developing her love for reading. Volunteering at the Bradford Literature Festival was another opportunity I could not miss; my job consisted of collecting tickets, tidying up after events and ensuring the festival ran smoothly. The aim of the festival was for young people in particular to recognise Bradford’s literary past and encourage literary potentials of the future. It felt incredible to be part of such a creative and transformational community, helping to inspire the youth of today with literature of the past.
From the moment I picked up ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte in the library, I left behind my teen-fiction obsession and began to understand the intricacy and sophistication involved in respected works of literature. By studying English Literature at university level, I look forward to discovering a variety of texts from authors of all backgrounds and analysing these critically through independent research. Knowledge is something I do not take for granted so studying English Literature would allow me to develop more expansive ways of perceiving the historical and cultural differences in the world around me. Being part of the Asian community, it is easy to fall under the impression that the Arts and Humanities are unfavourable compared to the Sciences; realising this only further impelled me to pursue my dream of having a platform for creativity and establishing a voice through my writing.