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English professor publishes article on impact of Kinzua Dam on Seneca supernatural stories


English professor publishes article on impact of Kinzua Dam on Seneca supernatural stories

GREENVILLE, Pa.—Thiel College assistant professor of English Dr. Melissa Borgia published an article analyzing the supernatural lore of the Seneca people living near the Kinzua Dam.

The article appears in the March edition of the Oral Tradition journal.

After briefly tracing the historical richness of Iroquois and Seneca stories about supernatural beings and occurrences, it offers interpretations on these stories that are pertinent to a new generation. Traditional storytellers, such as the various indigenous peoples of North America, use their tales as vehicles for instruction in their communities; an important part of this instruction is maintenance and strengthening of cultural traditions within communities and families. The building of the Kinzua Dam on the Seneca Allegany Territory in the late 1960s and subsequent upheavals in the community have deepened the tradition of stories about supernatural incidents. These old stories have gained strength and guided those removed by the dam’s construction to overcome those splits in the community.

Oral Tradition is a journal of the world’s oral traditions and related forms from the ancient world to the present day. The journal is available online.

Borgia teaches courses in Rhetoric, Composition, and Educating English Language Learners. She is also an online course designer/instructor of the Pennsylvania Department of Education English as a Second Language (ESL) certification-track courses for teachers. Her consulting work has included research and data transcription for the Seneca Nation of Indians’ Tribal Historic Preservation Office. Borgia has a Bachelor of Arts in Writing from Edinboro University, a Master of Science in Bilingual-Bicultural Special Education from Mercyhurst University, and a Ph.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in English, Composition and Teaching English as a Second Language.

About Thiel College

Thiel College is a private liberal arts institution founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 24 varsity sports, and an 11:1 student-faculty ratio. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2016 and remains committed to combining tradition with innovation.

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