Elsa Guyot

Elsa Guyot

PhD 2016,
Université de Montréal and Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3

Postdoctoral Researcher in the Digital Laboratory for Quebec Art History Studies (LENHAQ) of the Department of Art History of the Université du Québec à Montréal and Director of Research and Communications, ELLEPHANT Gallery (Montreal).

Elsa Guyot is a graduate of the Université de Montréal and of Paul-Valéry University Montpellier 3. Her thesis received the “Prize for the best thesis in cotutelle France-Québec,” awarded by the Ministère des relations internationales du Québec and the Consulate General of France. Her research focuses on the following themes: the political and social role of museums, cultural and museum history in Quebec, and the mobilization of the past in temporary exhibitions. She is currently conducting postdoctoral research on the history of exhibitions in Quebec, within the Laboratory for Quebec Art History Studies (LENHAQ). She is also Director of Research and Communications at Montreal’s ELLEPHANT Art Gallery, , which represents the work of contemporary Canadian, Québecois, and Indigenous artists.

How are you applying your degree in Art History and what do you value most from your doctoral experience?

My PhD experience has allowed me to develop my taste for writing and for the transmission of knowledge. I acquired expertise in the fields of communication, curation, and mediation. On a broader level, my university studies led me to develop a critical mind; the work of research and writing work involves deconstructing knowledge, questioning dominant discourses and crossing sources. Undertaking and completing a thesis also means becoming a master in project management (managing one’s time, budget and priorities) and is an important asset for professional life.  

The most precious aspect of my trajectory was undoubtedly the transdisciplinary approach that the cotutelle France-Québec allowed me to explore. It gave me the opportunity to bring together different points of view from two academic cultures. In Montreal, the doctoral seminars were extremely rich and stimulating: I was fortunate to meet dynamic and intelligent people, both amongt my doctoral colleagues and the professors in charge of the inter-university doctoral program in art history. All the seminars I attended have, in one way or another, enriched my thesis. 

What advice would you give to someone considering graduate studies in Art History?

I’d give three.

Be bold. Don’t hesitate to write to and meet the researchers who inspire you and whose ideas you are passionate about: for example, museum curators, philosophers, art critics, and professors within and outside your network. Knock on doors; when they open it always enriches both you and your subject. 

Choose a supervisor you trust and with whom you have both personal and intellectual affinities. I had the opportunity to be mentored by two professors who believed in my project and gave me the opportunity to take it as far as possible. The road to a thesis is so long and so demanding in many ways that it is essential to take the time to choose the right person to accompany you in your research, to guide you, to debate with you, to read and reread your work, and to advise you. 

Finally, don’t waste too much time wondering whether you are legitimate or not: you are legitimate. You are in your place.