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Doing exegesis means pulling meaning out of a text. You'll want to make a claim about what the text is doing (your thesis!) and use elements from the text as your evidence to back up your claim (your argument).
Define Your Pericope
What makes this chunk of text a chunk worth analyzing?
What makes this chunk of text its own chunk?
Transitional words or phrases (then, when, after, now)
Changes in setting (time, location)
Ask & Answer Questions
What part does setting play?
Who are the characters (including deities)?
How do they move, change, grow?
What role does the dialogue play?
Are there recurring themes and actions
Note repetitions, developments etc.
How does Imagery/Symbolism function?
Bring it All Together
What is this passage doing?
Can you boil that down to a one sentence statement?
That’s your THESIS!
Basic Plot Structure
Use these elements of plot to analyze a narrative
Exposition: Setting, characters, background, what's at stake
Inciting Moment: What starts the action or initial conflict?
Rising Action: The movement of the narrative toward climax
Climax: Major event of the story
Falling Action: Wrapping up
CLICK HERE for tips on getting started with exegesis paper writing
More Questions to Ask the Text
Who wrote this?
What was their context?
What conversations did they join?
Why did they write it?
For whom did they write it?
How successful would this text have been?
How useful is it now?
Queer Questions, for example
1. Who are the characters?
What are their genders?
How do their genders seem to influence their roles in the story?
Who is missing?
Who has the power?
2. What assumptions are made about gender/sexuality?
What are women’s/men’s assumed motivations?
What hierarchies are at play?
Where sexual themes/tensions?
How are (/not) bodies involved and treated?
3. How can we play with the text?
What happens if you swap the genders of the characters?
What happens if you drop or reverse the assumptions?
What might this story mean to a queer person (gay, bi, trans, nonbinary)?
Where might the queer person see themselves in this story?
4. Other questions to ask
How can/has this passage be interpreted in harmful ways?
What themes in the passage lend themselves to examining questions of sex, gender, and/or sexuality?
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