Advertising and Public Memory

This is the first comprehensive academic volume dedicated to the topic of ghost signs and I was flattered to be invited onto the editorial team ahead of its publication in 2017. It is now available in paperback and ebook formats, and I recommend ordering from your local book shop (e.g. UK and USA) where possible, or direct from the publisher.

My main contribution to the book was an essay co-authored with Geraldine Marshall titled What is a Ghost Sign? which allowed us to explore the ways in which they have previously been defined, before developing a working definition of our own. A pre-publication copy of the paper can be downloaded here.

ISBN Details

The full book title is Advertising and Public Memory: Social, Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Ghost Signs, edited by Stefan Schutt, Sam Roberts and Leanne White. The publisher, Routledge, has an interactive preview that can be viewed before buying.

  • Paperback, ISBN 9780367873844
  • eBook, ISBN 781315677750
  • Hardback, ISBN 9781138934689

About the Book

This is the first scholarly collection to examine the social and cultural aspects on the worldwide interest in the faded remains of advertising signage (popularly known as ‘ghost signs’). Contributors to this volume examine the complex relationships between the signs and those who commissioned them, painted them, viewed them and view them today. Topics covered include cultural memory, urban change, modernity and belonging, local history and place-making, the crowd-sourced use of online mobile and social media to document and share digital artefacts, ‘retro’ design and the resurgence in interest in the handmade. The book is international and interdisciplinary, combining academic analysis and critical input from practitioners and researchers in areas such as cultural studies, destination marketing, heritage advertising, design, social history and commercial archaeology.

The Contents

1. Uncovering Ghost Signs and their Meanings [Leanne White, Stefan Schutt and Sam Roberts]

2. What is a Ghost Sign? [Sam Roberts and Geraldine Marshall]

Part 1: Social Perspectives

3. The Ghost in the Sign: A Psychological Perspective on Ghost Signs [Anthony W. Love]

4. Torch Songs to Modernity: Ghost Signs as Emblems of the Urban Soul [Antonina Lewis and Kirsten Wright]

5. Crowdsourcing Pioneers: the Co-creation and Institutionalisation of an Amateur Collection [Laura Carletti]

6. That One Up There Was Mine: Lost Artisan Identities and the Renewed Interest in Painted Advertising Signs [Stefan Schutt and Tony Mead]

7. Displaying Ghost Signs Online [Colin Hyde and Amy Barnes]

8. “This peaceful revolution”: resonances of a London ghost sign [Yvette Williams Elliott]

Part 2: Cultural Perspectives

9. The Schwarzenegger hide-and-seek. Finding disappearing hand-painted signs in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam [Cristina Nualart]

10. Faux Ghost Signs: Nostalgia, Authenticity, and the Role of the Sign Painter [Meredith Kasabian]

11. The InVisibility of Chicha: a Socio-Historical Account of the Emergence and (Re)production of Chicha as ‘Gráfica Popular’ in Lima, Peru [Caroline E. M. Hodges, Azucena del Carmen Cabezas León and Janice Denegri-Knott]

12. Marketing the Past: Ghost Signs and Sydney’s Marketing History [Robert Crawford]

13. Ghost Fascias: Retail Corporate Identity Revenants in Urban Space [Gary Warnaby and Dominic Medway]

14. Bedrock [David Bernstein]

Part 3: Historical Perspectives

15. Ghost Signs and the Teaching of Immigrant History [Robert Pascoe and Gerardo Papalia]

16. The Mural Legacy of N.V. Gevaert Photo-Producten: Lessons from a Preservation and Restoration Process [Klara Peeters, Sarah De Smedt and Joost Caen]

17. Signs of Life: Recognising the significance of Melbourne’s Historic Painted Signs [Leisa Clements]

18. Olive Oyl Ignites a Spark [Veerle De Houwer]

19. Historic Signs: Toward an Understanding of their Community Value in Heritage Practice [Rachel Jackson]

20. Teaching the Ghost Signs of Seattle [Marie Wong]

21. Ghost or Avatar? The Value of Conserving Heritage Signs [David S Waller and Helen J Waller]

A Last Ghost Sign Story [Stefan Schutt and Sam Roberts]

About the Editors

Stefan Schutt is an Honorary Fellow and former Research Program Leader at the Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. Stefan’s research interests revolve around the everyday uses of digital technologies. He is particularly interested in the intersection of technology, narrative and identity. Stefan is the founder of a number of award-winning community technology projects. He is also a ghost sign aficionado, and the creator of the Lewis & Skinner online signwriting document archive: www.lewisandskinner.com.

Sam Roberts is Director of Ghostsigns and Better Letters, and Associate Researcher at the Typographic Hub, within the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, UK. In addition to numerous published articles on ghost signs, Sam authored and published Hand-Painted Signs of Kratie about street signs in Cambodia. He curated the History of Advertising Trust Ghostsigns Archive, and leads the Ghostsigns Walking Tours in London.

Leanne White is a Senior Lecturer in the College of Business at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. Her research interests include: national identity, commercial nationalism, popular culture, advertising, destination marketing, events and cultural tourism. She is the author of 50 book chapters and refereed journal articles, and co-editor of the Routledge research books: Wine and Identity: Branding, Heritage, Terroir (2014), Dark Tourism and Place Identity: Managing and Interpreting Dark Places (2013), and Tourism and National Identities: An International Perspective (2011).

Contact the editorial team.