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History Personal Statement

My family's accounts of India's tumultuous 1975 State of Emergency prompted my interest in social history, and made me question how far individual, unrestricted stories such as these could help piece together the past. Eric Hobsbawm's discussion of oral histories in his essay 'History from Below' helped me consider the extent that past elitist authorities have influenced the sources we have access to, something I found echoed by E.H Carr. Grasping the significance of private, personal sources, I began to appreciate the historiographical challenges in evaluating what we know of our past. My curiosity into the past, coupled with its challenging and exciting mysteries, have fuelled my eagerness to study history.

My A Level History studies and reading of Kenneth O' Morgan's 'Britain since 1945' developed my thoughts on the impact of post-war politics on society and cultural thought, particularly that of gender. Finding revisionist ideas arguing WWII was responsible for the acceleration of women's rights rather than the Suffragette movement became the discussion point upon which I based a personal study. When applying Hobsbawm's 'Sense of the Past' essay to this, I found he would have argued that changes in attitudes towards women in regards to the home and employment were irreversible after WWII, considering the war as social revolution. I disagree with this notion, as 1950s Britain did see a return to significant gender spheres. Nevertheless Hobsbawm's theory demonstrated to me history's contested nature. By applying this concept to my interest in the development of British feminism, I became enthused by the interpretive side of history, which I look forward to studying.

From both my Indian and British identities comes my interest in class history, from which I began to consider factors influencing past class perception. In Robert Tressell's 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' gulfs in education, political or otherwise, are blamed, where parallels can be drawn similarly from India's caste system. Political ideas of domination and subordination studied in my A Level Philosophy studies broadened my thinking into cultural factors, which also affect class, race and religion. Using interdisciplinary knowledge has illuminated the benefits of contextualising a period to me, particularly of politics and religion. I look forward to developing a base of knowledge to fully grasp the history I study.

A lecture at the UNIQ Summer School on the European Reformation inspired me to read Diarmaid's MacCulloch's 'Europe's House Divided'. The reformers' aims to overcome the Church's burdensome demands on society, adversely resulting in government interference in canon law, was intriguing in its ironic disassociation, demonstrating to me the use of looking at conflicts holistically. MacCulloch's discussion of the Iberian Reformation helped me gain insight into Spanish religious history, valuable in both my interest in Spanish culture and my study of the language. I wish to use my enthusiasm for languages to complement my study of history.

My interest in history goes beyond academia. I am part of a youth panel for the Museum of London, working on projects which go towards a 2012 Cultural Olympiad exhibition based on Roman London. I have been involved in conservation tasks and public history events, such as a gladiator re-enactment in an excavated London amphitheatre. Besides this, I also have a strong interest in theatre and often stage-manage performances. I regularly fundraise for Barnardo's, and I enjoy reading a range of literature. From these, I have developed my ability to work in demanding environments, and organise and apply research skills effectively, all invaluable to independent study. The challenges and rewards of deepening insight into the past is why I wish to take the opportunity to study history.

Universities Applied to:

  • Oxford (History) - Interview and Rejection
  • York (History) - Offer (AAA) I
  • Bristol (History) - Offer (AAB with an A in History) Firm
  • Exeter (History with Study Abroad) - Offer (AAB) /Firm
  • Kent (History) - Offer (ABB)

Grades Achieved:

  • History (AS/A2) - A/A
  • Philosophy (AS/A2) - A/A
  • Spanish (AS/A2) - A/B
  • English Literature (AS) - C


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