Folk(less) Lore: Theorizing Expression and Transmission in Absence of Contact

Casey R. Schmitt (Gonzaga University)

Inspired by the expressive resilience displayed during COVID-19 lockdowns, this project theorizes “folk-less” lore: verbal and material folklore transmitted among people who never actually meet, speak, or interact directly or digitally. The physical artifacts of such lore—like latrinalia and other anonymous graffiti—are themselves the points of contact, continuity, and change. The paper demonstrates that such folklore circulates without temporally or spatially synchronous community, to foster and sustain community all the same. Case examples include stacking cairns, gum walls, love locks, and signs of hope, peace, and encouragement during the tumultuous months of summer, 2020.

Part of 17-03 Theorizing Isolation, Tradition, and Ritual during a Pandemic, Monday, October 18, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm