Professor spotlight: folklorist Lynda Daneliuk

Students can often be intimidated by their professors and may need help approaching them. Through this ongoing series, the Omega will introduce students to several professors at TRU, uncovering the humanity and personalities of our educators.

In the world of academia, there are instructors who not only stand out for their scholarly accomplishments but also for their profound impact on students. TRU sessional instructor Lynda Daneliuk embodies a unique combination of fondness for Folklore studies and a sincere dedication to teaching and empowering students.

Daneliuk is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Folklore studies. In her dissertation, she explores and unravels the web of beliefs surrounding the dark history of New Orleans, a city rich in folklore and historical tragedy. Daneliuk stated that her dissertation is centred on “dark tourism,” which includes but is not limited to “ghost tours” with a tinge of “the darker parts of history.” Dark tourism is a sub-form of tourism whereby interested parties visit locations of great tragedy or mystery. Some of these destinations may be reported as being supernaturally infested, while others are known as sites of accidents or murder.

As a third-generation Canadian settler with German and Ukrainian roots, Daneliuk became passionate about folklore after reading a Canadian novel at Douglas College. She found the novel to be an “artistic expression of culture.” Daneliuk added that “folklore is the way that we think about culture and share it [and] it ranges from anything from ballads to fairytales.”

According to Daneliuk, a story that remains stuck with her is of Reverend Moses Harvey, a Presbyterian clergyman, historian and naturalist who took unconventional steps to challenge the boundaries of scientific analysis by exploring the rumours of “giant squids” in the 1870s, which were considered a myth before their scientific discovery. Daneliuk said that the more that Harvey “gathered these stories,” the more he noticed that there was a “pattern” of these sea animals being spotted during “certain times of the year…[during] specific weather conditions.” Harvey’s work ignited a fire within Daneliuk to think more about “the importance of culture and communication,” adding that one day she would like to “get a tattoo of a squid.”

Daneliuk’s interests are not just confined to traditional academia. “Even as an old lady,” she added with a chuckle, “l do a bit of video gaming.” Her hobbies don’t just end with video gaming; she also enjoys journaling, which allows her to reset and unleash her creativity. Aside from her scholastic and creative pursuits, she also plays another role as a caregiver for her mother, who has “early onset dementia,” Daneliuk said.

Reflecting fondly on her former years during her time at Douglas College, Daneliuk recalls the impact that a feminist lecturer, Susan Briggs, had on her as “absolutely delightful,” which drove her to emulate Briggs’ teaching style in her current role as an instructor in university teaching here at TRU. She was also inspired by another Professor who taught literature classes in Old English, a form of language which she finds “very sexy” and which “renewed the sense of the joy of learning” within her.

At TRU, Daneliuk has developed two different courses, Urban Legends and Informal Communications for the Communications department. Daneliuk finds the aforementioned courses to be “baby folklore courses.” The course that holds a special place in her heart is the one about Urban Legends, which dives into “all kinds of urban legends, like the one of the alligator and the sewer,” Daneliuk said.

Daneliuk’s main advice to TRU students is two-fold, “not to take things for granted” and not to allow the fear of judgement from others stop you from trying out new endeavours’, which are insights that came to her with time and experience. She also encourages students to see lectures as an opportunity to, “discover something about the world,” not as something they need to do just to get a job.  
The Omega’s Professor Spotlight is a new weekly series where we reintroduce you to some of the universities most popular faculty members. If you would like to nominate a professor, lecturer, or sessional instructor for their own Professor Spotlight, you’re encouraged to email the Omega’s arts editor, Augustus Holman, by email at