Introducing one of our Spring Arts Ambassadors Jennifer Banful, a third year (BA) English student at the University of Southampton, who tells us a bit about the course, her aspirations beyond her degree, and why she’s excited to take on her new role as Arts Ambassador. Choosing to study English at the University of Southampton has been an incredibly insightful and emotional whirlwind at times. Now I’m in my final year, I’m pleased to say that I have encountered literary works of all shapes and sizes – from Old English poetry and Belle letters, to Flash Fiction and Greek Epics. I have even dabbled in a bit creative writing too! While my course is research heavy, I would argue that this is the best part, as this inspires innovation! Increased exposure to published Literary studies and works has informed my own critical responses as a scholar. Being able to experiment with your ideas and create correlations between texts, new and old, is one of the most satisfying aspects of the degree as this is when you really come into your own.
All things literary aside, when I’m not buried in a desk full of reading materials, you will often find me at the University’s climbing wall, doing Zumba in The Cube, or perhaps in a study-room cosying up in a new sweater that I thrifted in town, or maybe even writing up an article for the Wessex Scene in The Bridge. As of this week, you may also find me in Southampton’s Cultural Quarter!
I’m a firm believer in the idea that our creativity is something that should always be evolving with us. I can’t wait to explore this in the context of the creative and cultural industries after I graduate, but not before I’ve taken a detour to Spain, where I plan on taking up a teaching role.
When it comes to what interests me, I can be quite enigmatic because I’m curious about everything. For this reason, the arts have always resonated with me as a mode of expression that is incredibly fluid. In terms of art, I have always loved Performing Arts and Visual Arts in particular, but in more recent years I learned about The New York School of poets and became a wee bit fascinated with the works of Frank O’Hara.
Much of my involvement and enjoyment in the arts started when I was young. I was lucky enough to have the William Morris Gallery on my doorstep and the annual ‘Walthamstow Art Trail’. Aside from these, I’ve always enjoyed watching plays just as much as I loved being in them and performed various different styles of theatre right up until A-level. Then in my late teens, I discovered independent films and decided I wanted to be a film critic. It Felt Like Love directed by Liza Hittman was a short film that I paid particular attention to because of her incredible cinematography.
I love art in all its various forms so I was instantly drawn to the Arts Ambassador position. I wanted to gain an insider’s perspective and form a new appreciation for the ‘cultural renaissance’ (as my lecturer Justine Pizzo puts it) that is happening right here in Southampton. Now that I have this platform to share my love of art, I hope it sparks a contagion amongst my friends and peers through conversation, blogging, and social media.
Arts Ambassadors is a paid opportunity, supported by the Careers and Employability Service’s Excel Southampton Internship programme, University of Southampton.