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Paul Cantor

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Paul Cantor


Harvard University

Paul Cantor wwwenglvirginiaedusiteswwwenglvirginiaedu

The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture: Liberty Vs. Authority in American Film and TV

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Paul A. Cantor is an American literary and media critic. He is currently the Clifton Waller Barrett Professor in the English Department at the University of Virginia.


As a young man Cantor attended Ludwig von Mises' seminars in New York City. He went on to study English literature at Harvard (A.B., 1966, Ph.D., 1971), where he also studied politics with Harvey Mansfield. Cantor has taught for many years at the University of Virginia, where he is the Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English.

Cantor has written on a wide range of subjects, including Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Jane Austen, Byron, Shelley, Rousseau, Romanticism, Oscar Wilde, H. G. Wells, Nietzsche, Leo Strauss, Samuel Beckett, Salman Rushdie, Tom Stoppard, Don Delillo, New Historicism, Austrian economics, postcolonial novels, contemporary popular culture, and relations between culture and commerce.

Paul Cantor on Shakespeare's Rome

Shakespeare criticism

Cantor has published extensively on Shakespeare. In Shakespeare's Rome: Republic and Empire (1974), a revision of his doctoral thesis, he analyzes Shakespeare's Roman plays and contrasts the austere, republican mentality of Coriolanus with the bibulous and erotic energies of Antony and Cleopatra. He returns to the Roman plays in Shakespeare's Roman Trilogy: The Twilight of the Ancient World (2017)

In Shakespeare: Hamlet (1989), he depicts Hamlet as a man torn between pagan and Christian conceptions of heroism. In his articles on Macbeth, he analyzes "the Scottish play" using similar polarities.

Cantor has also published articles on many other Shakespeare plays, including As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, Henry V, Othello, King Lear, Timon of Athens, and The Tempest.


Cantor's second book, Creature and Creator: Myth-Making and English Romanticism (1984), includes discussions of Rousseau, Blake, Byron, and the Shelleys.

Media criticism

Cantor is perhaps best known for his writings on popular culture. In Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization (2003), he analyzes four popular American television shows: Gilligan's Island, Star Trek, The Simpsons, and The X-Files. A 2004 article in Americana described Cantor as "a preeminent scholar in the field of American popular culture studies." His most recent book on the subject is The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture: Liberty vs. Authority in American Film and TV (2012). He has also published many articles, most of which are listed on his webpage at the University of Virginia.

Austrian economics

Cantor has combined his interest in literature with an interest in Austrian Economics. Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture (2010), a collection of essays Cantor edited with Stephen Cox, explores ways in which one can use Austrian economics to understand works of literature. Cantor has presented his work at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and in 1992 received the Ludwig von Mises Prize for Scholarship in Austrian Economics.


Paul Cantor Wikipedia

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