WATN – Daniel Santiago Sáenz

Daniel Santiago Sáenz: Editor-in-Chief: Volume XII (2015-2016)

Daniel Santiago Sáenz is projected to graduate with his MA in Art History from Concordia University this coming August, and will then continue  on to his PhD at Columbia University in the City of New York in Fall 2018. Sáenz’s MA thesis, supervised by Dr. Steven Stowell, explores “the intellectual and artistic exchanges between Spain and New Spain around the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, specifically as they relate to the visual representations of masculinities, both hegemonic and deviant.” This research has been generously funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada Graduate Scholarship – Master’s), the Fonds de recherche du Québec – société et culture (Bourse de maîtrise en recherche), and the Concordia University Faculty of Fine Arts Fellowship. His doctoral training, however, will be in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, which consists of interdisciplinary Hispanic and Lusophone studies based on literature, cultural studies, and cultural theory, where he will be working with art historian Alessandra Russo as his supervisor.

When asked what led him to pursue an academic trajectory, Sáenz cited his experiences with undergraduate research outside of the classroom. Sáenz graduated from Concordia with a BA in 2016, majoring in Religion with honours, and minoring in Art History, though for a period his minor was in Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality, these three topics making up his main area of interest. During his undergrad he received the Concordia Undergraduate Student Research Award, became a research assistant (RA) for Dr. Hillary Kaell in the Department of Religion, and then an RA for Dr. Stowell at the same time as doing an independent study with him, and said it was “this kind of research experience motivated me to think about research as a career.”

Another source of independent academic experience was through CUJAH, he stated that “I would say for sure getting involved with CUJAH, first as the Conference Coordinator and eventually as the Editor-in-Chief, you get a feel for academic life outside of the classroom. Knowledge often times does not leave the institutional walls, and it’s nice to try to bring that knowledge outside of the classroom or to the public.” Sáenz also spoke of the advantage that CUJAH provided when applying to grad schools because of the relationships he built within the faculty, as well as the dedication shown to disseminating student work and research, “ Extracurricular involvement shows that you’re able to balance your life, you can take care of school but you’re also involved with your academic community. It shows that you’ve been working to develop editing and publishing skills which are part of the expectations of academic life.”

Sáenz was involved with CUJAH in various roles throughout his degree. First as an author for volume X, and having co-founded the Journal for Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality, he was appointed as the Conference Coordinator for 2014-2015, which centered on Art and the Exhibition Space, before being asked to take on the position of Editor-in-Chief for volume XII (2015-2016). His focus was on developing collaborations between Art History and Studio Art students and depositing the journal with the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec and Library and Archives Canada. Sáenz was vocal about his concerns regarding the monetary value placed on research, particularly within the arts, which is why “I doubled the fee-levy, my thought process behind it was that editors would get some money in future years. Intellectual labour is often taken for granted in artistic circles.” He also did this to give CUJAH a greater degree of financial freedom. Another one of his initiatives was focused on continuing the work of Ashlee Griffiths (Editor-in-Chief of volume XI), bridging the gap between Studio Art and Art History through Expand, a secondary publication that was created a as a catalogue for an exhibition in collaboration with the VAV Gallery. They also promoted this discourse during the conference, including student artists in panels which dealt with themes present within their work, so that the panels were about both research and art-making.

When asked about his views on the role of journals within the university, Sáenz said:

”It shows that we are involved in this knowledge production and dissemination which is, at the end of the day, the goal of being an academic or student. I also think it’s important that CUJAH is a free publication because our funding, and a lot of our education, is funded by and through taxpayer money. So I think scholars have a commitment to give back to the community and I don’t think that’s always the case, often times scholars are talking to other scholars and it’s this never ending circle of academics talking to academics.” Furthermore, he emphasized the importance of student publications as a resource for students to engage with their writing in a communal way, “As art historians, or students and scholars in the humanities and social sciences, writing is our craft, and I think having an undergraduate journal shows that we take pride in this craft and that we do it well. And if we aren’t writing well and putting things out there, then what are we doing?”

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