Literary scholar Paul Cantor’s two talks were a highlight of this year’s FreedomFest—first he was on a panel with Jo Ann Skousen and Stephen Cox, exploring unsuspected capitalist themes in literature (Cox, editor of Liberty and a professor at UCSD, had a particularly interesting reading of Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!), then he gave a talk on the themes of his first book, Shakespeare’s Rome: Republic and Empire. Cantor argues that Shakespeare’s Romans are not just anachronistic Elizabethans—quite different attitudes toward suicide, for example, separate Shakespeare’s Romans from his Christian contemporaries—and he finds in the Bard’s Roman plays an inkling of republican philosophy to come, something other scholars contend had yet arise in any Englishman’s mind. Cantor couldn’t take his audience’s knowledge of Shakespeare, or Rome, for granted, but it was a good talk, and the panel the literature previous day had had a capacity audience.
Away from the madding crowd, Cantor sat down for an interview with Jeffrey Tucker of Laissez-Faire Books to discuss The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture: Liberty vs. Authority in American Film and TV and related topics.
Read Jordan Bloom’s review of the book here. Cantor’s earlier volume Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization is also worth seeking out.