Paul A. Cantor (October 25, 1945 – February 25, 2022) was an American literary and media critic. He taught for many years at the University of Virginia, where he was the Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English.

Paul Cantor
Born(1945-10-25)October 25, 1945
New York City, U.S.
DiedFebruary 25, 2022(2022-02-25) (aged 76)
EducationHarvard University (BA, PhD)

Early life edit

Cantor was born in New York City on October 25, 1945.[1] As a young man he was an avid reader with interests in science, philosophy, and literature. He has given an account of his early years in his intellectual autobiography.[1]

While still in high school, Cantor attended Ludwig von Mises' economics seminars in New York City.[1]

He went on to study English literature at Harvard (A.B., 1966, Ph.D., 1971), where he studied literature with Larry Benson, Hershel Baker, and Walter Jackson Bate and politics with Harvey Mansfield.[1]

Critical focal points edit

Cantor wrote on a wide range of subjects, including Homer,[2] Plato,[3] Aristotle,[4] Dante,[5] Cervantes,[6] Shakespeare,[7][8][9][10][11][12][13] Christopher Marlowe,[14] Ben Jonson,[15] Jean-Jacques Rousseau,[16][17][18] William Blake,[18][19] Lord Byron,[18][20] Percy Bysshe Shelley,[18][21][22] Mary Shelley,[18][23][24] Jane Austen,[25] Romanticism,[18][26] Oscar Wilde,[27] H. G. Wells,[28][29] Friedrich Nietzsche,[30] Mark Twain,[31] Elizabeth Gaskell,[32] Thomas Mann,[33] Samuel Beckett,[34][35] Salman Rushdie,[36] Leo Strauss,[37] Tom Stoppard,[38] Don Delillo,[39] New Historicism,[40] Austrian economics,[41] postcolonial literature, contemporary popular culture,[42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50] and relations between culture and commerce.

Shakespeare criticism edit

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

In Shakespeare: Hamlet (1989), he depicted Hamlet as a man torn between pagan and Christian conceptions of heroism. In his articles on Macbeth, he analyzed "the Scottish play" using the same polarity.[12][51]

Cantor also published articles on several other Shakespeare plays, including As You Like It,[52] The Merchant of Venice,[53] Henry V,[54][55] Othello,[56] King Lear,[57][58][59] Timon of Athens,[60] and The Tempest.[61][62][63]

A characteristic feature of Cantor's scholarship is his focus on various political regimes and their depiction in Shakespeare's plays.[64] Cantor notes that different regimes promote different ideas about human beings, the good, and government. He compares and contrasts the early Roman regime as depicted in Coriolanus and the later Roman regime as depicted in Antony and Cleopatra, pagan values and Christian values, republican regimes and monarchical regimes.

Several sets of Cantor's lectures on Shakespeare are available on the internet (see below).

Romanticism edit

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

Popular culture and media criticism edit

Cantor was perhaps best known in his later years for his writings on popular culture. He published three books in this field. In Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization (2003), he used literary and critical methods to analyze four popular American television shows: Gilligan's Island, Star Trek, The Simpsons, and The X-Files. Nine years later he followed this book up with another book on movies and television, The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture: Liberty vs. Authority in American Film and TV (2012). His third and final book on popular culture was Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American Dream: Con Men, Gangsters, Drug Lords, and Zombies (2019).

Cantor also published many articles on films and television shows, most of which are listed on his webpage at the University of Virginia and on his CV. A 2004 article in Americana described Cantor as "a preeminent scholar in the field of American popular culture studies."[65]

Austrian economics edit

Cantor combined his interests in literature and culture with an interest in Austrian Economics. Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture (2010),[66] a collection of essays Cantor edited with Stephen Cox, explored ways of using Austrian economics to understand works of literature. Cantor presented his work at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and in 1992 he received the Ludwig von Mises Prize for Scholarship in Austrian Economics.

Books edit

  • Shakespeare's Rome: Republic and Empire.  Cornell University Press, 1976.  Reprinted with a new preface, University of Chicago Press (paperback), 2017.
  • Creature and Creator: Myth-making and English Romanticism.  Cambridge University Press, 1984.   
  • Shakespeare: Hamlet.  Cambridge University Press, 1989. Second edition (revised), 2004
  • Macbeth und die Evangelisierung von Schottland.  Siemens Foundation, 1993. Translated into Korean and published by Editus Publishing Company, 2018.
  • Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization. Rowman & Littlefield, 2001. 
  • Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture.  Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2009.  Co-edited with Stephen Cox.
  • The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture: Liberty vs. Authority in American Film and TV.  University Press of Kentucky, 2012.
  • Shakespeare’s Roman Trilogy: The Twilight of the Ancient World. University of Chicago Press, 2017.
  • Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American Dream: Con Men, Gangsters, Drug Lords, and Zombies. University Press of Kentucky, 2019.

Death edit

Cantor had a stroke in mid-February 2022. He died on February 25, 2022, in Charlottesville, Virginia, at the age of 76.[67]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d "A Brief Intellectual Biography". Paul A. Cantor. Retrieved February 27, 2022.
  2. ^ Cantor, Paul (2007). "The Homeric Question: Is the Odyssey a Great Book?". From Here to There: The Odyssey of the Liberal Arts, ed. Roger Barrus, John Eastby, and J. Scott Lee.
  3. ^ Cantor, Paul (1987). ""Rhetoric in Plato's Phaedrus"". The History and Philosophy of Rhetoric and Political Discourse, Vol. II, ed. By Kenneth W. Thompson.
  4. ^ Cantor, Paul (1991). ""Aristotle and the History of Tragedy"". Harvard English Studies.
  5. ^ Cantor, Paul (1996). "The Uncanonical Dante: The Divine Comedy and Islamic Philosophy". Philosophy and Literature. 20: 138–153. doi:10.1353/phl.1996.0033. S2CID 170708743.
  6. ^ Cantor, Paul (2016) [May 2, 2016]. "Against Chivalry: The achievement of Cervantes and Shakespeare". Weekly Standard.
  7. ^ Cantor, Paul (1983). "The Ground of Nature: Shakespeare, Language, and Politics". The College: St. John's Review.
  8. ^ Cantor, Paul (2006–2007). "Playwright of the Globe: Shakespeare as World Poet". Claremont Review of Books.
  9. ^ Cantor, Paul (1993). "Shakespeare--'For All Time'?". The Public Interest.
  10. ^ Cantor, Paul (1976). Shakespeare's Rome: Republic and Empire. Cornell University Press.
  11. ^ Cantor, Paul (1989). Shakespeare: Hamlet. Cambridge University Press.
  12. ^ a b Cantor, Paul (1993). Macbeth und die Evangelisierung von Schottland. Siemens Foundation.
  13. ^ Cantor, Paul (2017). Shakespeare's Roman Trilogy: The Twilight of the Ancient World. University of Chicago Press.
  14. ^ Cantor, Paul (2004). "The Contract from Hell: Corruption in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus". Private and Public Corruption, ed. By William C. Heffernan and John Kleinig.
  15. ^ Cantor, Paul (2001). "The Law versus the Marketplace in Jonson's Bartholomew Fair". In Solon and Thesis: Law and Theater in the English Renaissance, ed. Dennis Kezar.
  16. ^ Cantor, Paul (1985). ""The Metaphysics of Botany: Rousseau and the New Criticism of Plants"". Southwest Review.
  17. ^ Cantor, Paul (2019). "The Economics of Philosophical Anthropology: Hegel versus Rousseau". The Rousseauian Mind, ed. Eve Grace and Christopher Kelly.
  18. ^ a b c d e f Cantor, Paul (1984). Creature and Creator: Myth-making and English Romanticism. Cambridge University Press.
  19. ^ Cantor, Paul (1992). ""Blake and the Archaeology of Eden"". A Walk in the Garden: Biblical, Iconographical and Literary Images of Eden, ed. By Paul Morris and Deborah Sawyer.
  20. ^ Cantor, Paul (1980). ""Byron's Cain: A Romantic Version of the Fall"". Kenyon Review.
  21. ^ Cantor, Paul (1976). ""'A Distorting Mirror': Shelley's The Cenci and Shakespearean Tragedy,"". Harvard English Studies.
  22. ^ Cantor, Paul (1997). "The Poet as Economist: Shelley's Critique of Paper Money and the British National Debt". Journal of Libertarian Studies.
  23. ^ Cantor, Paul (1993). ""Mary Shelley and the Taming of the Byronic Hero:'Transformation' and The Deformed Transformed"". The Other Mary Shelley: Beyond Frankenstein, ed. By Audrey Fisch, Anne Mellor, and Esther Schor.
  24. ^ Cantor, Paul (1997). "The Apocalypse of Empire: Mary Shelley's The Last Man". Iconoclastic Departures: Mary Shelley After "Frankenstein".
  25. ^ Cantor, Paul (1999). "Persuasion and the Lingering Death of the Aristocracy". Philosophy and Literature. doi:10.1353/phl.1999.0012. S2CID 143662092.
  26. ^ Cantor, Paul (2007). "The Politics of Epic: Wordsworth, Byron, and the Romantic Redefinition of Heroism". Review of Politics. 69 (3): 375–401. doi:10.1017/S0034670507000733. S2CID 155001297.
  27. ^ Cantor, Paul (1997). "Oscar Wilde: The Man of Soul Under Socialism". In Beauty and the Critic ed. James Soderholm.
  28. ^ Cantor, Paul (1999). "The Invisible Man and the Invisible Hand:H. G. Wells's Critique of Capitalism". The American Scholar.
  29. ^ Cantor, Paul; Hufnagel, Peter (2009). "The Empire of the Future: Imperialism and Modernism in H. G. Wells". Studies in the Novel.
  30. ^ Cantor, Paul (1982). ""Friedrich Nietzsche: The Use and Abuse of Metaphor,"". In Metaphor: Problems and Perspectives, ed. By David Miall, Harvester Press.
  31. ^ Cantor, Paul (2005). "Yankee Go Home: Twain's Postcolonial Romance". Democracy's Literature: Politics and Fiction in America, ed. By Patrick J. Deneen and Joseph Romance.
  32. ^ Cantor, Paul (2016). "Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South: Industrial Energy Versus 'The Idiocies of Rural Life". Capitalism and Commerce in Imaginative Literature, ed. Edward W. Younkins.
  33. ^ Cantor, Paul (1994). ""Hyperinflation and Hyperreality: Thomas Mann In Light of Austrian Economics"". Review of Austrian Economics. 7: 3–29. doi:10.1007/BF01102134. S2CID 154845103.
  34. ^ Cantor, Paul (1994). "Happy Days in the Veld: Beckett and Coetzee's In the Heart of the Country". South Atlantic Quarterly. 93: 83–110. doi:10.1215/00382876-93-1-83. S2CID 257788813.
  35. ^ Cantor, Paul (1999). "Waiting for Godot and the End of History: Postmodernism as a Democratic Aesthetic". Democracy and the Arts, ed. Melzer et Al.
  36. ^ Cantor, Paul (1997). "Tales of the Alhambra: Rushdie's Use of Spanish History in The Moor's Last Sigh". Studies in the Novel.
  37. ^ Cantor, Paul (1991). "Leo Strauss and Contemporary Hermeneutics". In Leo Strauss's Thought, ed. Alan Udoff.
  38. ^ Cantor, Paul (2016). "Reality Czech: Tom Stoppard Discovers Shakespeare behind the Iron Curtain". Review of Politics. 78 (4): 663–679. doi:10.1017/S0034670516000565. S2CID 151765814.
  39. ^ Cantor, Paul (1991). ""'Adolf, We Hardly Knew You': DeLillo's Postmodern Hitler,"". New Essays on 'White Noise', ed. By Frank Lentricchia. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511624476.004.
  40. ^ Cantor, Paul (1993). "Stephen Greenblatt's New Historicist Vision". Academic Questions. 6 (4): 21–36. doi:10.1007/BF02682859. S2CID 145246719.
  41. ^ Cantor, Paul (2009). Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture. Ludwig von Mises Institute.
  42. ^ Cantor, Paul (1999). "The Simpsons: Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family". Political Theory. doi:10.1177/0090591799027006002. S2CID 143998133.
  43. ^ Cantor, Paul (2000). "Shakespeare in the Original Klingon: Star Trek and the End of History". Perspectives on Political Science. 29 (3): 158–166. doi:10.1080/10457090009600707. S2CID 145127014.
  44. ^ Cantor, Paul (2001). "This Is Not Your Father's FBI: The X-Files and the Delegitimation of the Nation-State". The Independent Review.
  45. ^ Cantor, Paul (2007). "Popular Culture and Spontaneous Order, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tube". Philosophy and the Interpretation of Pop Culture, ed. By William Irwin and Jorge J. E. Gracia.
  46. ^ Cantor, Paul (2007). "The Invisible Gnomes and the Invisible Hand: South Park and Libertarian Philosophy". South Park and Philosophy: You Know, I Learned Something Today, ed. By Robert Arp.
  47. ^ Cantor, Paul (2012). ""The Fickle Muse: The Unpredictability of Culture"". American Culture in Peril, ed. Charles W. Dunn.
  48. ^ Cantor, Paul (2001). Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization. Rowman & Littlefield.
  49. ^ Cantor, Paul (2012). The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture: Liberty vs. Authority in American Film and TV. University Press of Kentucky.
  50. ^ Cantor, Paul (2019). Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American Dream: Con Men, Gangsters, Drug Lords, and Zombies. University Press of Kentucky.
  51. ^ Cantor, Paul (1997). "'A Soldier and Afeard': Macbeth and the Gospelling of Scotland". Interpretation.
  52. ^ Cantor, Paul (2011). "The Spectrum of Love: Nature and Convention in As You Like It". Souls with Longing: Representations of Honor and Love in Shakespeare, ed. By Bernard J. Dobski and Dustin A. Gish.
  53. ^ Cantor, Paul (1987). "Religion and the Limits of Community in The Merchant of Venice". Soundings.
  54. ^ Cantor, Paul (2000). "'Christian Kings' and 'English Mercuries': Henry V and the Classical Tradition of Manliness". Educating the Prince: Essays in Honor of Harvey Mansfield, ed. By Mark Blitz and William Kristol.
  55. ^ Cantor, Paul (2006). "Shakespeare's Henry V: From the Medieval to the Modern World". Perspectives on Politics in Shakespeare, ed. By John A. Murley and Sean D. Sutton.
  56. ^ Cantor, Paul (1990). "Othello: The Erring Barbarian among the Supersubtle Venetians". Southwest Review.
  57. ^ Cantor, Paul (1997). "On Sitting Down to Read King Lears Once Again: The Textual Deconstruction of Shakespeare". The Flight from Science and Reason, ed. By Paul Gross, Norman Levitt, and Martin Lewis.
  58. ^ Cantor, Paul (1996). "Nature and Convention in King Lear". Poets, Princes, & Private Citizens: Literary Alternatives to Postmodern Politics, ed. By Joseph Knippenberg and Peter Lawler.
  59. ^ Cantor, Paul (1996). "King Lear: The Tragic Disjunction of Wisdom and Power". Shakespeare's Political Pageant: Essays in Politics and Literature, ed. By Joseph Alulis and Vickie Sullivan.
  60. ^ Cantor, Paul (1995). "Timon of Athens: The Corrupt City and the Origins of Philosophy". In-between: Essays & Studies in Literary Criticism.
  61. ^ Cantor, Paul (1980). "Shakespeare's The Tempest: The Wise Man as Hero". Shakespeare Quarterly. 31 (1): 64–75. doi:10.2307/2869370. JSTOR 2869370.
  62. ^ Cantor, Paul (1981). "Prospero's Republic: The Politics of Shakespeare's The Tempest". Shakespeare as Political Thinker, ed. By John Alvis and Thomas West.
  63. ^ Cantor, Paul (2002). "Shakespeare' The Tempest: Tragicomedy and the Philosophic Hero". Shakespeare's Last Plays: Essays in Literature and Politics, ed. By Stephen W. Smith and Travis Curtright.
  64. ^ Cantor, Paul (1995). "Literature and Politics: Understanding the Regime". PS: Political Science & Politics. 28 (2): 192–195. doi:10.1017/S1049096500057115.
  65. ^ "Conversations with Scholars of American Popular Culture". Americana. 2004. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  66. ^ "Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture" (PDF). August 18, 2014.
  67. ^ "Paul Cantor RIP, 1945–2022". Mises Institute. February 26, 2022.

External links edit

Video lectures by Cantor
  • A series of ten audio/video lectures by Cantor on Commerce and Culture at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama (2006).
  • A series of twenty-five video lectures by Cantor on the theme of Shakespeare and Politics, recorded in the government department of Harvard University (2013). Course consists of an introductory lecture followed by three lectures on each of the following plays Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Henry V, Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth.
  • A series of thirty video lectures on Shakespeare and The Politics of Genre. Course consists of a brief introductory lecture, followed by lectures on Richard II; Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part II; Henry V; Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, and King Lear.
  • A series of 10 video talks on Shakespeare's Rome. Course includes lectures on Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra.
Individual lectures and talks by Cantor
Cantor interviews on conversations with Bill Kristol
Other interviews (video and print)
Online publications