A Stubborn Fury: How Writing Works in Elitist Britain

by Gary Hall

Two fifths of Britain’s leading people were educated privately: that’s five times the amount as in the population as a whole, with almost a quarter graduating from Oxford or Cambridge. Eight private schools send more pupils to Oxbridge than the remaining 2894 state schools combined, making modern Britain one of the most unequal places in Europe.

In A Stubborn Fury, Gary Hall offers a powerful and provocative look at the consequences of this inequality for English culture in particular. Focusing on the literary novel and the memoir, he investigates, in terms that are as insightful as they are irreverent, why so much writing in England is uncritically realist, humanist and anti-intellectual. Hall does so by playfully rewriting two of the most acclaimed contributions to these media genres of recent times. One is that of England’s foremost avant-garde novelist Tom McCarthy, and the importance he attaches to European modernism and antihumanist theory. The other is that of the celebrated French memoirists Didier Eribon and Édouard Louis, and their attempt to reinvent the antihumanist philosophical tradition by producing a theory that speaks about class and intersectionality, yet generates the excitement of a Kendrick Lamar concert. Experimentally pirating McCarthy, Eribon and Louis, A Stubborn Fury addresses that most urgent of questions: what can be done about English literary culture’s addiction to the worldview of privileged, middle-class white men, very much to the exclusion of more radically inventive writing, including that of working-class, BAME and LGBTQIAP+ authors?

In Masked Media, a follow-up to A Stubborn Fury which is also due to be published in the MEDIA : ART: WRITE : NOW series, Hall proceeds to show how our ways of writing and working can be reinvented to produce a more socially just future after the years of austerity and the coronavirus pandemic.

When Gary Hall, if he is indeed the author of this book, speaks, he listens, and in listening he writes and in writing he remixes. He, or whatever version of authorship he betrays, shows us how writing works: intuitively, intellectually and intensively. The end result is always illumination.
Mark Amerika, Professor of Art and Art History, University of Colorado
Hall gives a stark account of how the English novel has emerged as a key technology for the reproduction of class inequality in Britain, and its seemingly inextricable connectedness to liberal humanism, anti-intellectualism and, worst of all, Oxbridge.
Isabel Waidner, author of We Are Made of Diamond Stuff and co-founder of Queers Read This.

Author Bio

Gary Hall is a critical theorist and media philosopher working in the areas of digital culture, politics and technology. He is Professor of Media in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Coventry University, UK, where he directs the Centre for Postdigital Cultures. He is the author of a number of books, including Pirate Philosophy (MIT Press, 2016) and The Uberfication of the University (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).