Why and how do contemporary questions of culture so readily become highly charged questions of identity? The question of cultural identity lies at the heart of current debates in cultural studies and social theory. At issue is whether those identities which defined the social and cultural world of modern societies for so long - distinctive identities of gender, sexuality, race, class and nationality - are in decline, giving rise to new forms of identification and fragmenting the modern individual as a unified subject. Questions of Cultural Identity offers a wide-ranging exploration of this issue. Stuart Hall firstly outlines the reasons why the question of identity is so compelling and yet so problematic. The cast of
Chapter 10: The Citizen and the Man about Town
The Citizen and the Man about Town
Who is the Man about Town?
O. Henry was an American writer of meretricious but, in their turn-of-the-century day, hugely popular short stories. In the late 1950s or early 1960s, a television series was based on them. One episode has always stuck in my mind. It was called ‘Man About Town’. Intrigued by the persistence of this screen memory, and wondering how I might have creatively misremembered it, I decided to check the original story.1 To my surprise, it matched my recollection almost exactly.
The narrative tells of O. Henry's wish to find out what a Man About Town is. He asks a number of people around New York: a reporter, a barman, a ...