Statement of Purpose for PhD in History

  • I’m Sheldon Copper
    University: Sun Yat-Sen University
    Nationality: Chinese
    October 26, 2021 at 8:20 am

    I have been learning at the department of Chinese language and literature for about six years. Two main experiences have stimulated my commitment from literature to new cultural history. The first experience involves my pursuit and understanding of my major. After getting a bachelor’s degree from YYY in 2019, I continued my study on literature at XXX University. During my undergraduate period, I have been dwelling on the meaning of literary studies. The knowledge I have gained from class has inspired a desire to come to a more in-depth understanding of cultural phenomena, including schools of literature, literary trends, and literary works. After several years of study, I find that there always are some historical, social, and cultural reasons behind these literary phenomena. Personally speaking, the ultimate aim of literary studies is to help me better understand the real world we are living in rather than literary phenomena. Therefore, taking literary texts as a tool to comprehend the world would benefit me more. It is more significant to explore historical reasons outside literature than deciphering the literariness into the literary text.

    The second experience is related to my master’s thesis. When exploring the reasons why boy actresses appeared in the Elizabethan stage to play the part of female characters instead of real actresses, I found it difficult to promote research if I had no understanding of medieval and renaissance. So I retrieved the available information from the database with the keywords of “medieval” and “renaissance”. Some papers are from a microhistory perspective, primarily focused on the history of medieval Europe, especially in Italy and France, presented by The Cheese and the Worms and Montaigu. Combined with substantial historical materials, historians reconstruct the daily world and spiritual world of average people with special research methods and unique perspectives. The shifts of research objects, research methods, and various ways of using historical materials left me with a memorable impression. Different from traditional political history and economic history, the new cultural history focuses on the average people, interdisciplinary nature, and various sources of materials.

    I intend to use my knowledge and expertise obtained at XXX to further the new cultural history research areas. But it is hard for me to further research without guidance due to a lack of systematic historical training. The University of ZZZ has a strong emphasis to research and this would be beneficial to my research interest in that I would be given ample opportunity to explore and expand upon my areas of studies.