Book Chapter

Torch Songs to Modernity Ghost Signs as Emblems of the Urban Soul

A Lewis, K Wright

Advertising and Public Memory - Social, Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Ghost Signs | Routledge - Taylor & Francis | Published : 2017


When we speak of torch songs, we conjure love songs of a very particular kind. Characterised by a lyric that actively constructs identity from a state of loss, the torch song is recognisable for its performative style as a staged lament. Confessional yet melodramatic, conflating distance with intimacy; torch songs show the present aspect of an affective past. Haunted and haunting, torch singers give voice to familiar psychological sentiment: the compulsion, when confronted with loss, toward recollection and projection (or memory and desire). Fuelled by reminiscence and an instinct for emotional survival, the impetus of torch song is the enactment of absence as a sustaining force. What is gon..

View full abstract

University of Melbourne Researchers