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Valente Center

Reading and Engagement Across Disciplines R.E.A.D.

Divine Currency: The Theological Power of Money in The West

In the fall of 2024 we will discuss Devin Singh's Divine Currency.  This book reveals how economic ideas structured early Christian thought and society, giving crucial insight into why money holds such sway in the West.  Examining the religious and theological sources of money's power, it shows how early Christian thinkers borrowed ancient notions of money and economic exchange from the Roman Empire as a basis for their new theological arguments.  The association of money with religious activity has contributed to money's increasing significance and connection with the politics that guide humans.  Devin Singh's account sheds light on why we live in a world where nothing seems immune from the price mechanism.

Divine Currency book cover
The Value of Everything book cover

Mariana Mazzucato: The Value of Everything

This spring, we will read The Value of Everything, a scathing indictment of our current global financial system. Mariana Mazzucato rigorously scrutinizes the way in which economic value has been accounted and reveals how economic theory has failed to clearly delineate the difference between value creation and value extraction. She argues that the increasingly blurry distinction between the two categories has allowed certain actors in the economy to portray themselves as value creators, while, in reality, they are just moving around existing value or even worse, destroying it.


The book uses case studies from Silicon Valley, the financial sector, and big pharma to show how the foggy notions of value create confusion between rents and profits, reward extractors and creators, and distort the measurements of growth and GDP.  In the process, innovation suffers, and inequality rises. 


The lesson here is urgent and sobering: to rescue our economy from the next inevitable crisis and to foster long-term economic growth, we will need to rethink capitalism, rethink the role of public policy and the importance of the public sector, and redefine how we measure value in our society.

image Sylvia Wynter's book

Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis

Join us for the Fall 2023 Reading & Engagement Across Disciplines (R.E.A.D.) seminar for which we read and discuss a core text that might just be on your SUMMER reading list and help to expand your theoretical toolbox. We will meet at the start of the Fall semester in a hybrid modality – time & place to be confirmed. All are welcome. The Valente Center for Arts & Sciences offers a copy of the book to all who’d like to join. Please email Hans Eijmberts for details.

This time, we will read Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis, a critical genealogy of Jamaican author Sylvia Wynter’s work, highlighting her insights on how race, location, and time together inform what it means to be human. The contributors explore Wynter’s stunning reconceptualization of the human in relation to concepts of blackness, modernity, urban space, the Caribbean, science studies, migratory politics, and the interconnectedness of creative and theoretical resistances. The collection includes an extensive conversation between Sylvia Wynter and Katherine McKittrick that delineates Wynter’s engagement with writers such as Frantz Fanon, W. E. B. DuBois, and Aimé Césaire, among others; the interview also reveals the ever-extending range and power of Wynter’s intellectual project and elucidates her attempts to rehistoricize humanness as praxis.

For any questions about the seminar and how to order the book, please contact the organizing faculty member Jon Ericson or Hans Eijmberts



Vibrant Matter by Jane Bennett

"Vibrant"January 20th, 2023

In Vibrant Matter the political theorist Jane Bennett, renowned for her work on nature, ethics, and affect, shifts her focus from the human experience of things to things themselves. Bennett argues that political theory needs to do a better job of recognizing the active participation of nonhuman forces in events. Toward that end, she theorizes a "vital materiality" that runs through and across bodies, both human and nonhuman. Bennett explores how political analyses of public events might change were we to acknowledge that agency always emerges as the effect of ad hoc configurations of human and nonhuman forces. She suggests that recognizing that agency is distributed this way, and is not solely the province of humans, might spur the cultivation of a more responsible, ecologically sound politics: a politics less devoted to blaming and condemning individuals than to discerning the web of forces affecting situations and events.


The Intimacies of Four Continents by Lisa Lowe

"Intimacies"August 30th, 2022.

Lisa Lowe examines the relationships between Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth- centuries, exploring the links between colonialism, slavery, imperial trades and Western liberalism. Reading across archives, canons, and continents, Lowe connects the liberal narrative of freedom overcoming slavery to the expansion of Anglo-American empire, observing that abstract promises of freedom often obscure their embeddedness within colonial conditions. 


The Mushroom at the end of the World by Anna Lowenhaupt

January 20th, 2022" "
Anna Lowenhaupts Tsing's The Mushroom at the end of the World delves into the relationship into the relationship between capitalist destruction and collaborative survival within multispecies landscapes, the prerequisite for continuing life on earth. 


Science and Social Inequality: Feminist and Postcolonial Issues (2006) by Sandra Harding

January 21, 2021 Sandra Harding joined the seminar for perspectives and discussion.  Read an excerpt of the book. 




R.E.A.D.1—Reading & Engagement Across Disciplines, is a book club geared at enriching the scholarly capacity of faculty, staff and students at Bentley University. The R.E.A.D. sessions, which occur at the beginning of each term, have inspired scholars from across disciplines to engage with the texts of renowned scholars.  Through the support of the Valente Center, we have contemplated the writings of Hannah Arendt (The Human Condition), Deleuze & Guattari (A Thousand Plateaus) and Bruno Latour, (We Have Never Been Modern). R.E.A.D. offers an invaluable opportunity for us to critically grapple with the propositions made by past scholars, to consider their relevance in today’s society, to share insights from various disciplinary angles, and to engage in lively debates. It cultivates open-mindedness and has enhanced our repertoire of theoretical lens by creating a space where we can learn more about each other, other disciplines, and how a text can be seen from a variety of angles. 

For more information on R.E.A.D. and upcoming sessions and books, contact Dr. Laurel Steinfield