Revisit: Ghost Signs


Ghost Signs: Historical, Social and Cultural Perspectives on Fading Advertising, Book to be edited by Stefan Schutt, Leanne White and Sam Roberts; Chapter abstract deadline 30 May 2014

Ghost Signs: Historical, Social and Cultural Perspectives on Fading Advertising
Editors: Stefan Schutt, Leanne White and Sam Roberts 

Call for Chapter Abstracts 

We are calling for expressions of interest for chapter submissions for an edited book with the proposed title: ‘Ghost Signs: Historical, Social and Cultural Perspectives on Fading Advertising’. The book will combine academic analysis and critical input with perspectives from expert practitioners and other interested researchers.

An academic publisher has expressed interest in producing this book. They will finalise their decision after reviewing the detailed book proposal which will include the proposed chapter abstracts. While deadlines are yet to be established, it is envisaged that completed chapters would be submitted in early 2015 (see proposed timeline below). Final chapters will be a maximum of 5,000 words (including references). Furthermore, chapters must be strictly original works (that have not been published elsewhere).

Ghost signs (also known as ‘fading ads’ or ‘brick ads’) are the faded remains of signage on walls and hoardings in older built environments. Although they are often conceived as hand-painted advertisements on brick walls, definitions of the term vary; indeed this book will seek to explore these varying conceptions.

Strong interest in ghost signs has existed for some decades, led by writers and photographers such as William (Wm.) Stage and Frank Jump in the USA. More recently, UK-based researcher-practitioner Sam Roberts has undertaken detailed research into ghost signs, creating an online archive of British ghost signs and running a popular blog on the topic. Social media has been extensively deployed during recent years by thousands of people to document and discuss ghost signs in cities around the world.

The topic of ghost signs is interdisciplinary. It engages with a wide range of research areas including: destination marketing, heritage advertising, social history, commercial archaeology, urban memory and cultural studies. Faded advertising has been largely overlooked in the academic literature to date, even though it has proved increasingly popular with the public. The complex relationships between the signs, and those who commissioned, painted, viewed (and view) them, warrants further investigation. By understanding ghost signs through these lenses, a richer appreciation can be developed of the social and cultural contexts surrounding the advertisements and the places with which they are connected.

Topics may include (but are not limited to) the following:

·  An exploration of the physical and intangible legacies of ghost signs
·  The relationship between ghost signs, cultural memory and nostalgia
·  Typologies of ghost signs
·  Textual analysis of ghost signs
·  Issues related to preserving and managing ghost signs
·  Ghost signs and community heritage
·  The relationship between ghost nights and place (national, state or regional) identity
·  Destination-specific case studies of ghost signs
·  Ghost signs, signwriting and craft history
·  Ghost signs as design/lettering artefacts  

Interested authors are invited in the first instance to send an abstract of no more than 300 words to Dr Stefan Schutt by 30 May, 2014.

Please send abstracts as word attachment to:

Proposed Timeline:

30 May, 2014 – Abstracts due
30 June, 2014 – Authors receive feedback on abstracts
30 January, 2015 – Chapters due (date to be confirmed after book proposal approved)

About the Editors:

Dr Stefan Schutt is a research program leader at the Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. His research interests revolve around the relationship of digital technologies to creativity, identity and belonging. An applied researcher with a background in the technology industry, Stefan is co-founder of ‘The Lab, a national network of technology clubs for young people with Asperger’s Syndrome, and creator of the ‘Lewis & Skinner online signwriting document archive. He is also the author of 25 refereed publications.

Dr 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 more than 45 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).

Sam Roberts has been documenting and researching ghost signs since 2006. In 2010 he curated the History of Advertising Trust Ghostsigns Archive and in 2013 he began leading walking tours of ghost signs in Stoke Newington, London. He has written extensively on the topic and his work has appeared in Ultrabold, Creative Review and in various books. He is a guest lecturer at a number of universities and has delivered talks to institutions such as St Bride Library, the Edward Johnston Foundation and the Sign Design Society. Sam is a member of the Memory Network and the Letter Exchange, an honorary researcher at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, and a friend of St Bride and the History of Advertising Trust. He blogs at and tweets @ghostsigns.