Commerce and Culture

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6. The Economics of Modernism

  • Commerce and Culture

Tags Media and CultureCalculation and Knowledge

07/27/2006Paul A. Cantor

Modernism was a reaction to mass culture and totalitarianism government support. Are artists better off being shielded from markets and commercial pressures? There are pluses and minuses to commercial systems.

Commercialization produced more novels. Capitalists gave readers what they wanted and made reading widespread. Modernism in some ways set out to define itself in opposition to the market, claiming that anything commercial lacks artistic effort. Cantor claims that modernism is the chief source of anti-commercialism.

Some patronage did not work so well. Mussolini was Ezra Pound’s patron. Pound was later declared insane so he would not have to be imprisoned. He was the central figure of North American modernism.

Lecture 6 of 10 from Paul Cantor's Commerce and Culture.


Contact Paul A. Cantor

Paul A. Cantor is Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English at the University of Virginia. He is the author of The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture: Liberty vs. Authority in American film and TV. He is the co-editor, with Stephen Cox, of Literature and the Economics of Liberty. See his interview in the Austrian Economics Newsletter.

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