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Research Methodologies for the Creative Arts & Humanities: Exegesis


Exegesis:  The word exegesis originates from the Greek word exēgeisthai: ex- ‘out of’ and hēgeisthai ‘to guide, lead.’ The core meaning of the term, then, is to guide or lead out of a text its meaning, to interpret. The English term 'exegesis' has a long history, dating at least as far back as the Greek philosophers. While often associated with the interpretation and meanings of religious texts, any 'text' might be the legitimate object of an exegetical exercise.

The history of the term provides some insight into part of the role an exegesis plays in a creative project. The ECU guidelines for a PhD or Masters by Research creative project describes the written exegesis as "supporting, contextualising and/or amplifying the creative project." The exegesis is a multifaceted document that is intended to show your understanding of "previous material in the relevant field of inquiry or creative arts genre," a "thorough understanding of the conceptual, theoretical and/or cultural context" of the discipline," and "how the research is a substantial and original contribution to knowledge."

The traditional process of exegesis, however, is in only one direction: it comes after the development of the original work and has no impact on it. However, in the research exegesis, one informs the other. As the research develops, the exegesis records, documents and interprets what occurs. In addition, as you explore theories and previous research, these insights inform the research project which feeds back into the creative project.

Your supervisor is your most important source of guidance, but additional support can also come from the research consultants.

Finding Exegesis

Trove, the National Library's website is the best way to do this.

Choose the Advanced Search mode and set the search parameters as follows:

  • Keyword box: exegesis
  • Format box: thesis
  • Availability box: online