Commerce and Culture: A Seminar with Paul Cantor
July 24-28, 2006 / Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama
Paul Cantor
Are commerce and culture perennially at odds with each other? Does the marketplace inevitably corrupt artists? At most colleges and universities across the country, the answer to these questions would be "yes," but the Mises Institute offers another perspective.

Paul Cantor, Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English at the University of Virginia, is a pioneer in literary criticism from an Austrian perspective. Having studied with Ludwig von Mises, he has been working to counter the Marxist understanding of culture that dominates in the humanities today.

Conceiving of culture as a form of spontaneous order, he argues that market principles such as free trade and competition are as beneficial in the artistic realm as they are in the economy as a whole. He shows that commercial culture is at least as vibrant and varied as the elite culture championed by Romantics and modernists.

In this seminar, Cantor discussed a variety of case studies of commercial culture, including Shakespeare's theater, classical music in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the serialized novel in Victorian Britain, the Hollywood studio system, and the development of the Fox network on television. He also considered the alternatives to commercial culture, from aristocratic and church patronage to totalitarianism and other forms of government support for the arts.

Monday, July 24

LECTURE I — The Economic Basis of Culture | (video): An introduction to the basic systems of supporting the arts—patronage, commercial markets, government funding; Culture and spontaneous order.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary: Tyler Cowen, "Introduction" and "The Arts in a Market Economy" in In Praise of Commercial Culture (1-43) Secondary: John Storey, Inventing Popular Culture (a good representative of Marxist views of popular culture) Supplementary: John Carey, The Intellectuals & the Masses: Pride and Prejudice among the Literary Intelligentsia 1880-1939 (an insightful analysis of the origins of antiliberal sentiments in the left and the right), Friedrich Hayek, The Fatal Conceit (his analysis on the origins of anti-capitalist attitudes), Martha Woodmansee, The Author, Art, and the Market (a study of the development of the Romantic conception of the autonomy of art).

LECTURE II—Shakespeare's Theater | (video): A study of the first example of "mass market" culture, and its intersection with aristocratic patronage. Shakespeare as businessman.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary: Lukas Erne, Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist (an excellent overview of the economic basis of Shakespeare’s theater, arguing that he was interested not only in the performance but also in the publication of his plays)Secondary: Lisa Jardine, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance (a study of the economic basis of the Renaissance, relating cultural achievements to commercial developments) Supplementary: Frederick Turner, Shakespeare's Twenty-First Century Economics: The Morality of Love and Money (a rarity — a pro-capitalist acount of Shakespeare)

Tuesday, July 25

LECTURE III—The Economics of Painting: Patronage vs. the Market | (video): Case studies include Michelangelo and Rubens. Answer to the riddle: "When is a Rembrandt not a Rembrandt?"
BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary: Tyler Cowen, "The Wealthy City as a Center for Western Art" (83-128) Secondary: Svetlana Alpers, Rembrandt’s Enterprise: The Studio and the Market

LECTURE IV—The Economics of Classical Music: Patronage vs. the Market | (video): Case studies include J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, and Wagner. The Church, the Court, and the Middle-Class Piano.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary: Tyler Cowen, "From Bach to the Beatles: The Developing Market for Music" (129-80) Secondary: F.M. Scherer, Quarter Notes and Bank Notes: The Economics of Music Composition in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Wednesday, July 26

LECTURE V—The Serialized Novel in the Nineteenth Century | (video): A study of the first form of culture mass-marketed as a commodity. The distinctive nature of print culture. Focus on Dickens. The art of the cliffhanger. Mass culture and artistic feedback.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary: Tyler Cowen, "The Market for the Written Word" (44-82) Jennifer Hayward, "Introduction" and "Mutual Friends: The Development of the Mass Serial" in Consuming Pleasures: Active Audiences and Serial Fictions from Dickens to Soap Opera (1-83) Secondary: Ludwig von Mises, "Literature Under Capitalism" in The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality (48-72) Lee Erickson, "Marketing the Novel, 1820-1850" in The Economy of Literary Form (142-69) Supplementary: Robert Darnton, The Business of Enlightenment: A Publishing History of the Encyclopédie, 1775-1800 (perhaps the best single case study of the interrelation of capitalism and culture).

LECTURE VI—The Economics of Modernism | (video): Modernist hostility to the market. The return to patronage and the turn to the academy and government funding. Case studies include T.S. Eliot, Pound, and Joyce, with some attention to modernist painting and music.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary: Lawrence Rainey, Institutions of Modernism: Literary Elites and Public Culture, especially Chapter 2-Joyce, Chapter 3-Eliot, and Chapter 4-Pound (42-145) Secondary: Paul Delaney, "Paying for Modernism" and "T.S. Eliot’s Personal Finances, 1915-1929" in Literature, Money and the Market (147-71) Tom Wolfe, The Painted Word (an incisive—and amusing—critique of modernist painting and the way it is marketed) Supplementary: Tyler Cowen, Good & Plenty: The Creative Successes of American Arts Funding (examines the isues of government funding of the arts).

Thursday, July 27

LECTURE VII—Totalitarianism and the Arts in the 20th Century | (video): The modern patrons of the arts: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Roosevelt. Case studies include Wilhelm Furtwängler and Dimitri Shostakovich. How to rub a dictator the wrong way.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary: Frederic Spotts, "The Perfect Wagnerite" and "The Music Master" in Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics (223-307) Solomon Volkov, ed., Testimony: The Memoirs of Dimitri Shostakovich (this book is highly controversial; the authenticity of the "memoir" has been questioned; nevertheless, it remains fundamental to the Shostakovich-Stalin issue)Secondary: Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich; Brandon Taylor & Wilfried van der Will, The Nazification of Art: Art, Design, Music, Architecture & Film in the Third Reich

LECTURE VIII—The Rise of the Motion Picture: The great example of commercial culture; The studio system vs. the auteur; Critique of Frankfurt School critique.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary: Tyler Cowen, "Why Hollywood Rules the World, and Whether We Should Care" in Creative Destruction: How Globalization Is Changing the World’s Culture (73-101) Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" in Dialectic of Enlightenment (120-67; the classic Marxist attack on Hollywood)Secondary: Thomas Schatz, The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio; Era Colin Haskins, Stuart McFayden, and Adam Finn, Global Television and Film: An Introduction to the Economics of the Business; Jack Stillinger, "Play and Films: Authors, Auteurs, Autres" in Multiple Authorship and the Myth of the Solitary Genius (163-81) Supplementary: James Robert Parish, Fiasco: A History of Hollywood's Iconic Flops (an amusing counter to the Frankfurt School fantasy of Holywood "hegemony").

Friday, July 28

LECTURE IX—When is a Network Not a Network?: Television as the test case of commercial culture; National Networks vs. Cable TV; In defense of Rupert Murdoch and Fox TV (The Simpsons and The X-Files).
BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary: Daniel Kimmel, The Fourth Network: How Fox Broke the Rules and Reinvented Television Secondary: Paul Cantor, Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization (chapters on The Simpsons and The X-Files, 67-198)

LECTURE X—Conclusion: Culture as Pop Culture; The advantages and disadvantages of the market as support for the arts. Comparison with other systems. Toward a theory of media change. Video games and the future. The spontaneous order model.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary: Tyler Cowen, "Why Cultural Pessimism" in In Praise of Commercial Culture (181-210) Secondary: Don Lavoie and Emily Chamlee-Wright, Culture and Enterprise: The development, representation and morality of business (an attempt to apply Austrian economics to cultural issues)

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