Reflection of Epidemics on Turkish Minstrel Poetry: The Case of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Saraç Ö.

MILLI FOLKLOR, no.127, pp.18-34, 2020 (AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Sociological abstracts, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.18-34
  • Keywords: Novel coronavirus (COVID-19), epidemic, minstrel poetry, virtual environment, social mentality
  • Ondokuz Mayıs University Affiliated: Yes


Mankind has struggled with many diseases throughout history and this struggle still continues today. It can be seen that epidemics generally have more negative effects on social life in social, political, cultural and educational areas, especially the economy. State administrators have also taken various measures to prevent such epidemic diseases according to the conditions of the period. Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), which first appeared in Wuhan city of People's Republic of China in December 2019 and began to threaten the whole world from here, is spreading very quickly. As a result of this situation, World Health Organization (WHO) declared this disease as pandemic (global epidemic) on March 11, 2020. Nations are collaborating against this disease which is seen in almost all countries of the world and they are taking some precautions. It is stated by the authorities that the measures taken alone by countries cannot be enough to prevent such global epidemics and that nations should act as a global whole. In addition, it is clear that societies' activating their internal dynamics social, political, religious, cultural, etc.- can be effective at the point of preventing/taking under control this global epidemic. Variables that may occur regionally, locally or globally have a significant role in the spread or prevention of diseases. Minstrels, who have undertaken the duty to express the pain, problems, happiness, love, fears and enthusiasm of the people in every period and who have thus become their spokesperson in a sense, were not indifferent to this novel virus and they expressed the existing situation and the conditions brought about by this condition in their poems. This study discusses how minstrels addressed and expressed their views about how the society perceived the situation with the emergence of the virus in the poems in their social media accounts and various platforms. In this way, the study aims to understand in which direction minstrels manipulate the society and what kind of social responsibility they undertake on the issue. It can be stated that during the global epidemic, minstrels created poems on many issues such as curfew, coronavirus opportunists, opposing spiritual values, the effects of the virus on economic and social life, holy places being empty, social media posts, abiding by the rules of cleaning, taking a break from education, praising healthcare workers, call to stay at home, reproach to the source of the virus, persecution to East Turkistan, and reaction to world leaders and thus interpreted the feelings of the people. In addition, it was found that all the stakeholders fulfilled their duty in the continuation of tradition in the face of this global epidemic. Bringing many elements of the tradition minstrel act, minstrel call-and-response, telling stories and fairy tales, etc.- to the viewers/listeners especially by making use of social media can be evaluated as the most important indicator that the tradition is continued in the liveliest way. Despite the views of minstrels on making use of folk medicine in the face of epidemic diseases in previous centuries, it is quite remarkable that today's minstrels stand in favour of modern medicine and this should be considered as a change of mentality.