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According to Ashesi University's learning goals, critical thinking is the ability to approach complex problems by demonstrating skills in data analysis, seeing things from multiple perspectives and having an awareness of a broad range of concepts and ideas that have personal and global significance. Before I took the course on text and meaning, I used to see a text as any piece of writing, but after the course my definition of a text has really changed, a text is not only a piece of writing, it can be a movie, a play or a picture. In fact a text can be any piece or form of art. A text can show a lot about the meanings contained in the text. For example in the short story "Quality Street" written by Chimamanda Adichie that was used for most part of the course, the text can be analyzed in so many ways to bring out a lot of meaning and concepts. After studying some concepts on the canon, deconstruction, Roland Barthes "death of the author" I have come to the conclusion that through critical thinking, the information in a text can be evaluated hence making me decide what to believe and recognize.
Elaborating on the deconstruction theory by Jacques Derrida, deconstruction simply means that a text has more than one meaning. Relating the deconstruction theory to Quality Street in terms of character change, Sochienne was not the only person who had changed in character, Mrs Njoku had also changed. From the text Sochienne seems to be the only one who had change, but from the knowledge and understanding of the deconstruction theory, I was able to analyze the text in more than one meaning hence also identifying that Mrs Njoku had also changed in character.
In "The death of the Author" by Roland Barthes, he argues that the author is simply a medium within which a story is portrayed. The author does not shape or structure the story, but rather mediates, and portrays the story as it exists. Barthes bases his principle on the fact that the status of the reader should be considered rather than the author (Barthes 4). Relating Roland Barthes principle to "Quality Street" the author Chimamanda Adichie was trying to enlighten the conflict between foreign culture and African culture (Adichie 1). From my point of view I think that the text is uniting the both foreign and local culture, this is clearly seen in the part where Sochienne married her Kenyan fiancé Mwangi. The text also shows the mother and child conflict, this conflict in my opinion is due to the fact that they were separated from each other for a while .From this principle I have learnt, I am able to read and analyze a text not taking the author views into consideration rather understanding the text from my point of view.
During the course I studied how to use metaphors, I learnt that a metaphor is figure of speech that shows the understanding of one concept in terms of another concept, where there is some similarity or connection between the two. For example, love is the burning fire deep in my soul. This phrase is a typical metaphor which shows the connection between love and burning fire. Relating the knowledge I have on metaphors to "Quality Street" a typical example of a metaphor in the text is "Faith was like a tin of Quality Street" (Adichie 4). This phrase is comparing faith and a tin of Quality Street which are unrelated. I have therefore learnt that the use of metaphors encourage me to draw a comparison between two unrelated items, and find similarities between them hence I have found different approaches in identifying a metaphor through critical thinking .
Taking the movie Marie Antoinette, I learnt important concepts about the movie which has really changed the way and manner in which I watch movies. Elaborating on the setting of the movie "Marie Antoinette" which was produced by Sofia Copula, the movie was produced in 2006 but has a setting in the 18th century where the French monarchical rule is at its peak. The movie was produced at the time when there was serious economic crisis worldwide and I am able to relate the movie to the economic crisis because the movie talks about how France went into debt through the extravagant nature of its Queen Marie Antoinette. Furthermore taking resolution into consideration, the resolution is clearly seen when Marie Antoinette loses her mother and the commoners start to revolt. Also as the aristocrats and the people of the palace courts begin to flee because of the looming danger, it is clear that the movie has come to an end. I have been able to criticize and analyze the movie from my point of view.
Another concept which I learnt during the course was the intrinsic attitudes of a text. The intrinsic attitude reveals the substance in the text. The intrinsic attitude deals with the style, character and plot. In the intrinsic attitude of analyzing a text, the author is not taking into consideration. Relating my knowledge on intrinsic attitudes to "Quality Street", the plot of the story builds up to the wedding ceremony and also the confrontation between mother and daughter. From my perspective the style of the movie seems informal because the language used is informal.
Further more I also learnt about the extrinsic attitudes of a text. The extrinsic attitude reveals the context of the text. The extrinsic attitude deals with the theme and the setting. In the extrinsic attitude the history and background of the author is taking into consideration. Relating the extrinsic attitude of analyzing a text to "Quality Street" the story was set in Lagos a suburb of Nigeria. From the background of the author Chimamanda Adichie, the author is a native of Nigeria and an Igbo. It can be seen from the text that the most of the characters are Igbo's hence; I can draw a conclusion that the author was depicting her life story. I have therefore learnt how to apply critical thinking in analyzing a text extrinsicly.
After taking a course in text and meaning, I have been able to relate critical thinking in analyzing the meaning of a text for this reason through critical thinking the information in the text can be evaluated making me decide what to believe and recognize. In addition I have been able to understand very well the basic concepts I learnt during the semester for example deconstruction, Roland Barthes "Death of the Author", the use of metaphor and identifying the intrinsic and extrinsic attitudes of a text.