Paul Cantor

Paul Cantor

Clifton Waller Barrett Professor

134 Bryan Hall

Office Hours: By appointment via e-mail.
Class Schedule: MW 3:30 - 4:45 TR 3:30-4:45

Comparative Literature, Renaissance, Romanticism


  • Ph.D. Harvard, 1971
  • A.B. Harvard, 1966


Selected Articles

  • "'A Distorting Mirror': Shelley's The Cenci and Shakespearean Tragedy," Harvard English Studies, 1976
  • "Shakespeare's The Tempest: The Wise Man as Hero," Shakespeare Quarterly, Spring 1980
  • "Byron's Cain: A Romantic Version of the Fall," Kenyon Review, Summer 1980
  • "Prospero's Republic:  The Politics of Shakespeare's The Tempest," in Shakespeare as Political Thinker, eds. John Alvis and Thomas West, Carolina Academic Press, 1981.
  • "Friedrich Nietzsche: The Use and Abuse of Metaphor," in Metaphor: Problems and Perspectives, ed. David Miall, Harvester Press, 1982
  • "The Ground of Nature: Shakespeare, Language, and Politics,"  The College: St. John's Review, Summer 1983
  • "Hamlet: The Cosmopolitan Prince," Interpretation, January 1984
  • "The Metaphysics of Botany: Rousseau and the New Criticism of Plants," Southwest Review, Summer 1985
  • "Rhetoric in Plato's Phaedrus," in The History and Philosophy of Rhetoric and Political Discourse, Vol. II, ed. Kenneth W. Thompson, University Press of America, 1987
  • "John Ford," in Jacobean and Caroline Dramatists, ed. Fredson Bowers, Gale Research Company, 1987
  • "Cyril Tourneur," in Jacobean and Caroline Dramatists
  • "Religion and the Limits of Community in The Merchant of  Venice," Soundings, Spring-Summer 1987
  • "Stoning the Romance: The Ideological Critique of Nineteenth-Century Literature," South Atlantic Quarterly, Summer 1989
  • "Othello: The Erring Barbarian among the Supersubtle Venetians," Southwest Review, Summer 1990
  • "Leo Strauss and Contemporary Hermeneutics," in Leo Strauss's Thought, ed. Alan Udoff, Lynne Rienner, 1991
  • "Aristotle and the History of Tragedy," Harvard English Studies, 1991
  • "'Adolf, We Hardly Knew You': DeLillo's Postmodern Hitler," in New Essays on 'White Noise', ed. Frank Lentricchia, Cambridge University Press, 1991
  • "Blake and the Archaeology of Eden," in A Walk in the Garden: Biblical, Iconographical and Literary Images of Eden, eds. Paul Morris and Deborah Sawyer, Sheffield Academic Press, 1992
  • "Shakespeare--'For All Time'?", The Public Interest, Winter 1993
  • "Mary Shelley and the Taming of the Byronic Hero:'Transformation' and The Deformed Transformed," in The Other Mary Shelley: Beyond Frankenstein, eds. Audrey Fisch, Anne Mellor, and Esther Schor, Oxford University Press, 1993
  • "Stephen Greenblatt's New Historicist Vision," Academic Questions, 1993
  • "Romanticism and Technology: Satanic Verses and Satanic Mills," in Technology in the Western Political Tradition, eds. Arthur Melzer, Jerry Weinberger, and Richard Zinman, Cornell University Press, 1993
  • "Hyperinflation and Hyperreality: Thomas Mann In Light of Austrian Economics," Review of Austrian Economics, 1994
  • "Happy Days in the Veld: Beckett and Coetzee's In the Heart of the Country," South Atlantic Quarterly, 1994
  • "Literature and Politics: Understanding the Regime," PS: Political Science & Politics, June 1995
  • "Timon of Athens: The Corrupt City and the Origins of Philosophy," In-between: Essays & Studies in Literary Criticism, March 1995
  • "The Uncanonical Dante: The Divine Comedy and Islamic Philosophy," Philosophy and Literature, April 1996
  • "On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again: The Textual Deconstruction of Shakespeare," in The Flight From Science and Reason, eds. Paul Gross, Norman Levitt, and Martin Lewis, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997
  • "Nature and Convention in King Lear," in Poets, Princes, & Private Citizens: Literary Alternatives to Postmodern Politics, eds. Joseph Knippenberg and Peter Lawler, Rowman & Littlefield, 1996
  • "King Lear: The Tragic Disjunction of Wisdom and Power," in Shakespeare's Political Pageant: Essays in Politics and Literature, eds. Joseph Alulis and Vickie Sullivan, Rowman & Littlefield, 1996
  • "Oscar Wilde: The Man of Soul Under Socialism," in Beauty and the Critic: Aesthetics in an Age of Cultural Studies, ed. James Soderholm, University of Alabama Press, 1997
  • "'A Soldier and Afeard': Macbeth and the Gospelling of Scotland," Interpretation, Spring 1997.  Reprinted in revised form as “Macbeth and the Gospelling of Scotland” in Shakespeare as Political Thinker, eds. John Alvis and Thomas West, ISI Press, 2000
  • "The Apocalypse of Empire: Mary Shelley's The Last Man," in Iconoclastic Departures: Mary Shelley after "Frankenstein", eds. Syndy Conger, Frederick S. Frank, and Gregory O'Dea, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1997
  • "Tales of the Alhambra: Rushdie's Use of Spanish History in The Moor's Last Sigh," Studies in the Novel, Fall 1997
  • "Shakespeare's Parallel Lives: Plutarch and the Roman Plays," Poetica 48 (1997)
  • "The Poet as Economist: Shelley's Critique of Paper Money and the British National Debt," Journal of Libertarian Studies, Summer 1997
  • "Waiting for Godot and the End of History: Postmodernism as a Democratic Aesthetic," in Democracy and the Arts, eds. Arthur Melzer, Jerry Weinberger, and Richard Zinman, Cornell University Press, 1999
  • "The Primacy of the Literary Imagination, or Which Came First: The Critic or the Author?" Literary Imagination, Spring 1999
  • "A Class Act: Persuasion and the Lingering Death of the  Aristocracy," Philosophy and Literature, April 1999
  • "The Invisible Man and the Invisible Hand: H. G. Wells's Critique of Capitalism," The American Scholar, Summer 1999
  • "The Simpsons: Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family," Political Theory, December 1999
  • "Postmodern Prophet: Tocqueville Visits Vegas," Journal of Democracy, January 2000
  • “Shakespeare in the Original Klingon: Star Trek and the End of History,” Perspectives on Political Science, Summer 2000
  • “‘Christian Kings’ and ‘English Mercuries’: Henry V and the Classical Tradition of Manliness,” in Educating the Prince: Essays in Honor of Harvey Mansfield, eds. Mark Blitz and William Kristol, Rowman & Littlefield, 2000
  • “Churchill and the Irish Question in The World Crisis,” Churchill Proceedings 1996-1997 (published 2000 by the Churchill Center)
  • “The Art in the Popular,” Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2001
  • “In Defense of the Marketplace: Spontaneous Order in Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair,” The Ben Jonson Journal, Volume 8, 2001
  • “Shakespeare’ The Tempest: Tragicomedy and the Philosophic Hero,” in Shakespeare’s Last Plays: Essays in Literature and Politics, eds. Stephen W. Smith and Travis Curtright, Lexington Books, 2002
  • “Being Claude Dukenfield: W. C. Fields and the American Dream,” Perspectives on Political Science, Volume 31, No. 2, Spring 2002
  • “The Scientist and the Poet,” The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society, Winter 2004
  • “The Contract from Hell: Corruption in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus,” in Private and Public Corruption, eds. William C. Heffernan and John Kleinig, Rowman & Littlefield, 2004                                                   
  • “Yankee Go Home: Twain’s Postcolonial Romance,” in Democracy’s Literature: Politics and Fiction in America, eds. Patrick J. Deneen and Joseph Romance, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005
  • “‘As Time Goes By’: Casablanca and the Evolution of a Pop-Culture Classic,” in Political Philosophy Comes to Rick’s: Casablanca and American Civic Culture, ed. James F. Pontuso, Lexington Books, 2005
  • “Film Noir and the Frankfurt School: America as Wasteland in Edgar Ulmer’s Detour,” in The Philosophy of Film Noir, ed. Mark T. Conard, University Press of Kentucky, 2006
  • “The Empire of the Future: Imperialism and Modernism in H. G. Wells,” (co-authored with Peter Hufnagel) Studies in the Novel, Spring 2006
  • “The Shores of Hybridity: Shakespeare and the Mediterranean,” Literature Compass,3/4, 2006, Blackwell, Online
  • “Shakespeare’s Henry V: From the Medieval to the Modern World,” in Perspectives on Politics in Shakespeare, eds. John A. Murley and Sean D. Sutton, Lexington Books, 2006
  • “Popular Culture and Spontaneous Order, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tube,” in Philosophy and the Interpretation of Pop Culture, eds. William Irwin and Jorge J. E. Gracia, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007
  • “The Invisible Gnomes and the Invisible Hand: South Park and Libertarian Philosophy,” in South Park and Philosophy: You Know, I Learned Something Today, ed. Robert Arp, Blackwell, 2007
  • “Playwright of the Globe: Shakespeare as World Poet,” Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2006/07
  • “Flying Solo: The Aviator and Libertarian Philosophy,” in The Philosophy of Martin Scorsese, ed. Mark T. Conard, University Press of Kentucky, 2007
  • “The Politics of the Epic: Wordsworth, Byron, and the Romantic Redefinition of Heroism,” The Review of Politics, Vol. 69, 2007
  • “Jack in Double Time: 24 in Light of Aesthetic Theory,” in 24 and Philosophy: The World According to Jack, eds. Jennifer Hart Weed, Richard Davis, and Ronald Weed, Blackwell, 2008
  • “The Cause of Thunder: Nature and Justice in King Lear,” in King Lear: New Critical Essays, ed. Jeffrey Kahan, Routledge, 2008
  • “From Shakespeare to Wittgenstein: ‘Darmok’ and Cultural Literacy,” in Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant, eds. Jason T. Eberl and Kevin S. Decker, Open Court, 2008
  • “Is There Intelligent Life on Television?”, Claremont Review of Books, Fall 2008
  • “Un-American Gothic: The Fear of Globalization in American Popular Culture,” in The Impact of Globalization on the United States, Volume 1, Culture and Society, ed. Michelle Bertho, Praeger, 2008
  • “The Western and Western Drama: John Ford’s The Searchers and the Oresteia,” in Print the Legend: Politics, Culture, and Civic Virtue in the Films of John Ford, ed. Sidney A. Pearson, Jr., Lexington, 2009
  • “O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock and the Problematic Freedom of the Irish Free State,” in Renegotiating and Resisting Nationalism in 20th-Century Irish Drama, ed. Scott Boltwood, Colin Smythe 2009
  • “When Is Diversity Not Diversity: A Brief History of the English Department,” in The Politically Correct University: Problems, Scope, and Reforms, eds. Robert Maranto, Richard E. Redding, and Frederick M. Hess, American Enterprise Institute, 2009
  • “The Truth Is Still Out There: The X-Files and 9/11,” in Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent Through American Popular Culture, eds. Timothy M. Dale and Joseph Foy, University Press of Kentucky, 2010
  • “The Fall of the House of Ulmer: Europe vs. America in the Gothic Vision of The Black Cat,” in The Philosophy of Horror, ed. Thomas Fahy, University Press of Kentucky, 2010
  • “‘Order Out of the Mud’: Deadwood and the State of Nature,” in The Philosophy of the Western, eds. Jennifer L. McMahon and B. Steve Csaki, University Press of Kentucky, 2010
  • “Get with the Program: The Medium Is Not the Message,” Academic Questions, Winter, 2010
  • “The Road to Cultural Serfdom: America’s First Television Czar,” in Back on the Road to Serfdom: The Resurgence of Statism, ed. Thomas E. Woods, Jr., ISI Books, 2010
  • “A Handshake Across the Centuries” [essay on Chinua Achebe], Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2010-Spring 2011
  • “Long Day’s Journey Into Brecht: The Ambivalent Politics of The Lives of Others, Perspectives on Political Science, Vol. 40, 2011
  • “How One Philosophizes with a Scalpel: Darwin, Nietzsche, and Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau,” in The Companionship of Books: Essays in Honor of Laurence Berns, eds. Alan Udoff, Sharon Portnoff, and Martin D. Yaffe, Lexington Books, 2012
  • “The Spectrum of Love: Nature and Convention in As You Like It,” in Souls With Longing: Representations of Honor and Love in Shakespeare, eds. Bernard J. Dobski and Dustin A. Gish, Lexington Books, 2011
  • “The Fickle Muse: The Unpredictability of Culture,” in American Culture in Peril, ed. Charles W. Dunn, University Press of Kentucky, 2012
  • “The Olympics of the Mind: Philosophy and Athletics in the Ancient Greek World,” co-authored with Peter Hufnagel, in The Olympics and Philosophy, eds. Heather L. Reid and Michael W. Austin, University Press of Kentucky, 2012
  • “The Literary Profession and Civic Culture,” AEI Program on American Citizenship, Policy Brief 10, May 2013
  • “Aristocracy in America” [on Huckleberry Finn], Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2013
  • “The Apocalyptic Strain in Popular Culture: The American Nightmare Becomes the American Dream,” The Hedgehog Review, Vol. 15, No. 2, Summer 2013
  • “Zombie Apocalypse in a ‘DC’ Comic,” Mises Daily Article, September 20, 2013
  • The Walking Dead and a Refuge from the Modern State,” Mises Daily Article, September 26, 2013
  • “The Economics of Apocalypse: A Tale of Two C.D.C.’s,” Mises Daily Article, October 9, 2013
  • Antony and Cleopatra: Empire, Globalization, and the Clash of Civilizations,” in Shakespeare and Politics, eds. Bruce E. Altschuler and Michael A. Genovese, Paradigm Publishers, 2014
  • “’Choice of Loss’: The Revaluation of Roman Values in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra,” in In Search of Humanity: Essays in Honor of Clifford Orwin, ed. Andrea Radasanu, Lexington Books, 2015
  • “The Importance of Being Odd: Nerdrum’s Challenge to Modernism,” in After the Avant-Gardes: Reflections of the Future of the Arts, ed. Elizabeth Millan, Open Court, 2016
  • “Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South: Industrial Energy Versus ‘The Idiocies of Rural Life,’” in Capitalism and Commerce in Imaginative Literature, ed. Edward W. Younkins, Lexington Books, 2016
  • “Against Chivalry: The achievement of Cervantes and Shakespeare,” Weekly Standard, May 2, 2016
  • “Reality Czech: Tom Stoppard Discovers Shakespeare behind the Iron Curtain,” Review of Politics, Fall, 2016
  • “The Economics of Philosophical Anthropology: Hegel versus Rousseau,” in THE ROUSSEAUIAN MIND, ed. Eve Grace and Christopher Kelly. Routledge. 2019


  • Director, NEH Summer Seminar for College Teachers (Shakespeare and Politics), 1987, 1989
  • NEH Visiting Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, Davidson College, 1987-1988
  • National Council on the Humanities, 1992-1999
  • Ludwig von Mises Prize for Scholarship in Austrian School Economics, 1992
  • American Political Science Association, Award for Best Paper in Politics and Literature Section, 1998 Convention
  • Gilligan Unbound chosen as one of the Best Non-Fiction Books of 2001 by the Los Angeles Times
  • Visiting Professor of Government, Harvard University, Fall 2007, Fall 2012, Spring 2015