The Hopeless University: Intellectual Work at the end of The End of History.




Journal Title

Journal ISSN



Volume Title


MayFly Books



Peer reviewed



Faced by the realities and lived experiences of intersecting crises, the University has become hopeless, in two respects. First, it has become a place that has no socially-useful role beyond the reproduction of capital, and has become an anti-human project devoid of hope. Second, it is unable to respond meaningfully with crises that erupt from the contradictions of capital. Thus. in its maintenance of business-as-usual, the University remains shaped as a tactical response to these contradictions. The Hopeless University examines the structures/forms, cultures/pathologies and activities/methodologies of the University, in order to question what kind of higher learning we yearn for and deserve. In looking at the ways in which the University represents our entangled, intellectual existences, Richard Hall asks whether we might compost the structures, cultures and activities that engender hopelessness and helplessness. Might other modes of intellectual work and higher learning be possible? In addressing this question, individuals and communities are invited to consider the potential for reimagining intellectual work as a movement of sensuous human activity in the world, and as a refusal of its commodification. As widespread social struggles against capitalism are revealed, we are reminded of our ability to make history. Thus, we must discuss how to reimagine and recycle intellectual work in society. We must discuss how to compost The Hopeless University as an indignant movement of dignity.


Green Open Access book, available from:


university, higher education, sociology, critical university studies, political economy, intellectual work


Hall, R. (2021) The Hopeless University: Intellectual Work at the end of The End of History. Leicester: MayFly Books.


Research Institute

Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice