Mini-Ep: Maria Had a Baby!

baby feet.jpeg

Missed us? We’ve been busy…in Maria’s case, making a BABY! (Among other things.) In this mini episode we check in about maternal health numbers in the US (not amazing), the experience of becoming a mother (pretty sweet, but keep yer grains of salt handy), and - of course - hit up some feminist theory about this whole childbearing thing. What’s up, Simone de Beauvoir! If you’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale and need another perspective on reproduction, you’ve come to the right place. Mamma Mia! We’re multiplying!

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949)


Kiera Butler, "The Scary Truth About Childbirth," Jan/Feb 2017.

Nina Martin, "Focus On Infants During Childbirth Leaves U.S. Moms In Danger," May 12, 2017.

Catherine Pearson, “What The French Get So Right About Taking Care Of New Moms,” January 17, 2017.


Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale (1985), now a series on Hulu

Some useful medical advice for women who are pregnant, collected by NPR:

Music by ABBA and Mariah.

Posted on November 13, 2017 .

S3E6 - Season 3 Gab: Taking Stock, Making Resolutions


One year is over, another just begun! In this mid-season gab we talk about how to look back over the past year and share strategies for making New Year's resolutions that stick. Discover the official Noorain Khan method for taking stock at the end of a year, hear our goals for 2017, and get some concrete advice on how to make  a good resolution courtesy of We also reveal our greatest resolution successes (Maria's involves Mordor, kind of) and swear that THIS is the year we're going to stay active - really!! Ready to take on the new year? Tune in for a chilled-out chat about taking the next steps! 

Links to Stuff we Talk About

On Noorain's love of self-improvement, quantified and otherwise:

S1E8: Our Quantified / Cyborg Selves

S3E1 - Self Help

Stephanie Pappas, “Why We Make New Year's Resolutions,” LiveScience. December 31, 2013.

Tips from to help you reach your New Year's resolutions:

Music by Bing Crosby, New Buffalo, and (of course!) Prince.

Posted on January 6, 2017 .

S3E5 - Poetry

Does the prospect of reading a poem send you into panicked memories of 11th grade English class? FEAR NOT! Poetry doesn't have to be like that! In this episode we find out how it's secretly all around us in the best ways, use theory to kill the author and open up avenues for fun interpretation, and share love for viral poetry by women of color. Maria's pal and colleague Dr. Adhaar Noor Desai helps demo how to unpack a plum(b) poem (the results make Noorain blush!), and we discover how to put more poetry in our lives. Take a moment to listen - and maybe even start to write! 

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author” (1967)


Román Castellanos-Monfil, "Yale senior wins the Individual World Poetry Slam Championship," Yale News, October 26, 2015. (video of Emi’s performance:

Ron Charles, Geoff Edgers and Brian Murphy, "‘Poetry for the ear’: Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize in Literature," The Washington Post. October 13, 2016.    

J.G. McClure, “The Miseducation of the Poet: High School and the Fear of Poetry,” Clever Magazine

National Endowment for the Arts, “How a Nation Engages with Art: Highlights from the 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts,” NEA Research Report #57, September 2013.

Michelle Toglia, “Transcript Of Beyonce's 'Lemonade' Because The Words Are Just As Important As The Music,” Bustle, April 24, 2016. YouTube video with all Lemonade poems: (catch the lemonade recipe we play at 16:30 -17:48)


A bonus close reading of Billy Collins's poem "Divorce" with Adhaar and Maria from their interview! Cutlery involved.

Poetry in Motion by MTA Arts & Design:

More on writer & artist Rupi Kaur:  (on Instagram

Suggested poems for people who think they don’t like poetry:

Try writing your own poem! Here are some great English-language haikus: Or write a poem based on a memory following these steps by Tara Skurtu

Guest speaker BIO! Adhaar Noor Desai is an Assistant Professor of Literature at Bard College who specializes in Shakespeare and early modern poetry. He completed his PhD in English at Cornell University, where he was a Fellow at their Center for Teaching Excellence. He has recently published in the journal Configurations and writes theatre reviews on contemporary stagings of Shakespeare. Follow him on Twitter at @adhaardesai


Helen Chasin, “The Word Plum

Patrick Philips, "Heaven

John Stephenson, "Snowy night" and other haiku

William Carlos Williams, “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower

Music this time by Corinne Bailey Rae, Bob Dylan, & Johnny Tillotson

Posted on December 22, 2016 .

S3E4 - Gifts


Got gift-giving on your mind? You're not the only one to agonize over it! Is exchanging presents a magical practice of reciprocity that leads to stronger human bonds (Team Anthropology!) or is it an inefficient scourge leading to deadweight loss (Team Economics!)? In this episode, we explore these two camps...and in the process get to Japan's extreme gifting culture (Maria’s our in-house expert!), best/worst presents (yay!/ack!), holiday shopping, and registries. Get ready folks, we unwrap gift giving like no one else doeslike nerds!



Links to Stuff We Talk About


Bronisław Malinowski, “Argonauts of the Western Pacific: An account of native enterprise and adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea” (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1922) [N&M note:  Yes, this title is bad, like baaaad.]

Marcel Mauss, “The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies” (Cohen & West Ltd, 1966). [N&M note:  Yes, this one too.]

Joel Waldfogel, “Scroogenomics:  Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays” (Princeton University Press, 2009).



“Why Economists Hate Gifts”. Planet Money. December 11, 2011. NPR

Caitlin Kenney. “The Most Wasteful Time Of Year.” Planet Money. November 25, 2009. NPR

Shankar Vedantam. "New Study Explores Psychology Of Giving Wedding Gifts." All Things Considered. June 24, 2016. NPR



On Japanese gift giving etiquette

On Valentine’s Day & White Day in Japan 


Music this time by 50 Cent, The Isley Brothers, Queen Mariah & Natalie Merchant 

Posted on December 7, 2016 .

S3E3 - International Activism

Want to go out and change the world? Great! WE NEED IT. But how to avoid doing more harm than good, especially when working for people from other contexts and cultures? We dig into this tricky question with Dr. Ryan Richard Thoreson: human rights lawyer, LGBTIQ activist, and one of our personal faves. Along the way we encounter white savior Barbie, grapple with the notion of cultural relativism, and each reveal some of our most facepalm-worthy moments abroad. Ryan also catches us up on the state of international LGBTIQ rights and activism, and we share some real talk about the colonialist legacy of the Rhodes Scholarships that Ryan, Noorain, and Maria all held. Theory helped shape how we approach making positive change, so join us for this ep and then get out there and make a difference where you can!

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Jack Donnelly, “Cultural Relativism and Universal Human Rights,” Human Rights Quarterly 6.4 (Nov. 1984): 400-419.

Ryan Richard Thoreson, Transnational LGBT Activism: Working for Sexual Rights Worldwide (University Of Minnesota Press, 2014)


Teju Cole, “The White-Savior Industrial Complex,” The Atlantic. March 22, 2012.

Nadia Khomami. "Oxford scholars reject hypocrisy claims amid row over Cecil Rhodes statue." The Guardian. January 13, 2016.

Courtney Martin, "The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems," Medium. January 11, 2016.

Sarah Schulman, “Israel and ‘Pinkwashing,’” The New York Times. November 22, 2011.


Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Taylor, Cross-Cultural Filmmaking: A Handbook for Making Documentary and Ethnographic Films and Videos (University of California Press, 1997) 

Zeba Blay, "'White Savior Barbie’ Hilariously Parodies Volunteer Selfies In Africa," The Huffington Post. April 18, 2016. and Barbie Savior Instagram account: 

"Government and Philanthropic Support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Communities," 2013/2014 Global Resources Report. June 2016.


Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden”:

Maria's documentary Momentum: Math and Science Teachers in Zambia (2006) on YouTube:
Part 1:
Part 2:

Statement from the Rhodes Trust on Cecil Rhodes’ legacy

Guest Speaker BIO! Ryan Richard Thoreson is the author of the book Transnational LGBT Activism: Working for Sexual Rights Worldwide, and has worked with a number of sexual rights groups including OutRight Action International and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association. He completed his doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and holds a JD from Yale Law School. He is currently completing a two-year fellowship researching and writing about LGBT children’s rights at Human Rights Watch.  

Music this time by the Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys, and MJ

Posted on November 24, 2016 .

S3 Replay: Progressive Patriotism

Following the 2016 election results, we've decided to share our vision for America at its best. So we're re-releasing our episode on patriotism from Season Two. In it, we talk about what it means to be both progressive and patriotic, and describe our inclusive American dream, which has room for both tradition and change. There is so much work to be done, and so much good to fight for. We've rounded up some links for ways to get involved and, if needed, help heal yourself and your community below.

Links about stuff we can do:

Get Involved:

Lily Feinn, “27 Little Things You Can Do To Make A Positive Difference After The 2016 Election Results” Bustle Magazine. November 9, 2016.

Anthony D. Romero (ACLU Executive Director) “If Donald Trump Implements His Proposed Policies, We’ll See Him in Court.”, November 9, 2016. Join the American Civil Liberties Union here.

Joanna Rothkopf, “A List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support”, November 9, 2016.

Lisa Ryan, “Here’s How to Donate to 10 Charities That Need Your Support Now More Than Ever” New York Magazine. November 9, 2016.

“How to Channel Your Post-Election Anger, Sadness, and Fear Into Action,” November 9, 2016.


John M. Grohol, Psy.D., “Healing After the Election,” World of Psychology.

Collier Meyerson, “How women of color are practicing self-care in a Trump world,” November 9, 2016 

Posted on November 10, 2016 .

S3E2 - Restorative Justice

Beyonce Lemonade

Ready to rethink what justice might look like in courts, schools, nations, and even our personal lives? In this episode, we take on restorative justice, the fledgling movement to engage victims and perpetrators (yes, we know, a loaded word!) of all kinds in constructive dialogue. This model offers a powerful alternative to the punitive paradigm of the American incarceration system, and ideally can lead to understanding, growth, and community-building. Human Rights lawyer and all-around badass Beth Compa talks us through some practical applications of RJ, and we get into both its promise and limitations. And along the way, we brush up on theories of justice (haaaayyy John Rawls), connect to themes from past eps, AND use a restorative justice lens to analyze her royal highness Queen Bey’s LEMONADE. Sorry, we ain’t sorry. 

Links to Stuff We Talk About


John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Harvard University Press, 1971)

"About Restorative Justice," Centre for Justice & Reconciliation, A Program of Prison Fellowship International.


Carly Berwick, "Zeroing out Zero Tolerance." The Atlantic. March 17, 2015.

Paul Tullis, "Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?" New York Times Magazine. January 4, 2013.

Melinda D. Anderson, "Will School-Discipline Reform Actually Change Anything?" The Atlantic. September 14, 2015.  


Growing Fairness. Teachers United (2013).

Code of Hammurabi

South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

Ira Glass, (Narrator). (2016, August 26). "Deep End of the Pool," (No. 595) [Audio podcast] - includes a great story about a private lawyer drafted to become a public defender, and what he learns about that system. This American Life


Beyonce's Lemonade (2016)

Equal Justice Initiative

In Theory S1E4:  Childhood (relevant to our conversation on schools)

In Theory S3E1:  Self Help (relevant to our conversation on adversarial systems and the fetishization of competition)

Guest Speaker BIO! Most recently a staff attorney at the Promise of Justice Initiative, Beth Compa began her career with the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, where she examined the effects of privatization on Georgia’s prison and misdemeanor probation systems. Beth holds a B.A. in History from NYU (2004) and a J.D. from Yale (2011), where she was Editor in Chief of the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, a director of the Rebellious Lawyering conference, and a member of the Detention & Human Rights clinic.

Posted on October 27, 2016 .

S3E1 - Self Help


Lifehacks, Oprah, The Secret…who CAN’T use a little self-help to maximize their personal and professional lives? We kick off Season 3 by diving into self help and celebrity advice culture, exploring both what’s great about them and their darker sides. We pin down the concept “neoliberalism,” and talk about how competition from the boardroom to the bedroom is leaving people feeling more isolated and looking to self-help for ways to survive in an increasingly precarious economy. On the way, Noorain opens up about her love of Oprah and her celebrity book binges, and Maria casts some epic shade on Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Let’s get this In Theory party started! 

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Daniel Nehring, Emmanuel Alvarado, Eric C. Hendriks, and Dylan Kerrigan, Transnational Popular Psychology and the Global Self-Help Industry: The Politics of Contemporary Social Change (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) 

Jennifer M. Silva, Coming up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty (Oxford University Press, 2013) 


Peter Fleming, “The way to a better work-life balance? Unions, not self-help,” The Guardian, October 11, 2016. 

Vanessa Friedman, “How Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Has Become a Role Model for Other Celebrities,” The New York Times, November 14, 2014.

George Monbiot, “Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems,” The Guardian, April 15, 2016.

Joe Pinsker “America Is Even Less Socially Mobile Than Most Economists Thought,” The Atlantic, July 23, 2015. 


William G. Domhoff, “Wealth, Income, and Power” Who Rules America? September 2005; updated February 2013 

Trysh Travis, The Language of the Heart: A Cultural History of the Recovery Movement from Alcoholics Anonymous to Oprah Winfrey (University of North Carolina Press, 2009) 

Janice Peck, Age of Oprah: Cultural Icon for the Neoliberal Era (Routledge, 2008) 

Bonus: Noorain’s celeb list!


Top 10 Oprah moments

Jewel, Never Broken

Janet Mock, Redefining Realness 

Shonda Rimes, Year of Yes

Lindy West, Shrill

Music this time by the Bananaramas, Miike Snow, and Destiny's Child.

Posted on October 19, 2016 .

S2E8 - Aliens: Where is everybody???

Hey--is anyone out there? In our last official episode of Season 2, we talk about whether humans are actually alone in the universe with the help of theories from physicists, philosophers, and Champagne Papi. JK. Kind of. From the Fermi Paradox to the Great Filter Theory to the Drake Equation (see what we did there?) we discuss whether it's crazy to believe in UFOs and little green men…or crazy NOT to! Along the way Maria reveals her awkward mixup of foreign vs. intergalactic policy expectations, Noorain sings the praises of the feminist movie Contact, and together we muse on what our collective obsession with life on other planets says about humanity today. Get ready everyone, the government can’t cover up this conversation! The truth is out there...

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Rene Descartes, "Meditations on First Philosophy." transl. D. A. Cress (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing; originally published in 1641)

"The Drake Equation." SETI Institute.  

"The Fermi Paradox." SETI Institute.

Max Weber, "Science as Vocation." From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, ed. and transl. H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (New York: Oxford University Press, 1946; originally published in 1919),  129-156.


David Chalmers, "The Philosophy of Virtual Reality" (on Descartes, perception, and the Matrix - thanks to Nabiha Syed for the link!)


Will Dahlgreen, "You are not alone: most people believe that aliens exist," YouGov. September 28, 2015.

George Dvorsky, "11 of the Weirdest Solutions to the Fermi Paradox," io9. March 20, 2013.

George Dvorsky, "The Great Filter theory suggests humans have already conquered the threat of extinction," io9. December 21, 2012.

Douglas Main, "Most People Believe Intelligent Aliens Exist, Poll Says," Newsweek. September 29, 2015.  

Tim Urban, " The Fermi Paradox: Where the Hell Are the Other Earths?," Gizmodo. May 23, 2014.


Noorain's elementary school reading: My Teacher is an Alien (1989)  and beloved film Contact (1997):

Music this time by Katy Perry, St. Vincent, and the magnificent Ella Fitzgerald. With shoutouts to Drake (naturally) and the X-Files theme song (DOUBLE naturally).

Posted on June 8, 2016 .

S2E7 - Do-It-Yourself Theory and the Crafting Comeback

From craft brewing to knitting, when did acting like we’re home on the range get so cool? And why is it so satisfying to can your own jar of jam, hand-build a table, or make a quilt? This week we take on the history, culture, and politics of hipster crafting and DIY. With the help of our trusty friend Marx and a theory of "new domesticity," we dig into what modern-day maker throwbacks can tell us about our work lives and gender identities. Sociologist and beer whisperer Dr. Allison McKim helps us unpack the homebrewing explosion and its gender-troubled history, PLUS we get into Maria's love of Renaissance Faires, Noorain's once-but-no-more work alienation, and high-concept housekeeping. Pour yourself a beer (or a cold brewed coffee if you're Noorain) and come talk crafting! If you can make it, we will talk about it!

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Karl Marx, “Estranged Labour,” in Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. (Marx's theory of alienation explained in everyday language here and here

Rachel Lee Rubin, Well Met:  Renaissance Faires and the American Counterculture (NYU Press, 2012)

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) (on division of labor and the rise of capitalism


Krystal Baugher, “Women and Beer: A 4,500-Year History Is Coming Full Circle,” The Atlantic. November 11, 2013. 

Emily Matchar, “The New Domesticity: Fun, Empowering or a Step Back for American Women?” The Washington Post. November 25, 2011.

Bonnie Rochman, “Handmade in America: Crafting's Comeback,” Parade. October 19, 2013. 


“2012 State of the Craft Industry” Craft & Hobby Association Presentation. 2012.

“Indie Craft Inspiration.” Craft & Hobby Association’s Portfolio Magazine. Winter 2009.

Shannon Hayes,  Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture. Left to Write Press. February 1, 2010.


Beer whisperer Allison McKim is also an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Bard College; more on her here

Music this week from Billy Currington, Jewel, Lila Downs, The Cardigans, and Erykah Badu

Posted on May 25, 2016 .

S2E6 - Season 2 Gab: Bold Transformations & Cozy Routines

Here in our mid-season grab-bag of chilled out convo, we take a break from theory to gab: we reflect on some of the amazing experiences we had as teenagers that made us into the people we are today. From socially conscious scouting to international underwear adventures, we take it back to '90s and let you in on some dorky-but-excellent truths about our formative years. PLUS we each describe our perfect Saturday and get enthusiastic about go-to takeout and gas station jalapeño poppers. Don't judge!! Come relax your brain with us (you need troughs to have peaks!) as we gear up for the last few episodes of Season 2.

Links to Stuff We Talk About

Formative Experiences (Transformations)

OK, we didn't talk about this explicitly, but doesn't Noorain's amazing rad Girl Scout program sound like the Pawnee Goddesses from S4 E4 of Parks and Rec, in the best way possible?! We played a little audio from that in our episode - Feministing agrees that they are the best! (Noorain dreams of being the Leslie Knope of West Michigan IRL!)

Maria's life-changing semester in Norway went down at Bergen Katedralskole (est. 1153 because Europe) in the city of Bergen. Thinking about a trip to Scandinavia? You should totally go to Bergen, it's the jam:

Lazy Saturday (Routines)

Lichee Nut, your new go-to Chinese takeout/delivery in Brooklyn. Pairs perfectly with 8 hours of TV binging.

The (possible?) origins of mozzarella sticks, even though we've never met anyone who actually makes them at home. Frying cheese does not a mozzarella stick make, Thrillist. But also pics and (possible) backstories for other great deep fried icons of lazy Saturdays across our great nation:

Music this week by Madonna, Marc Anthony (salsa version), Arcade Fire, the Kinks, and just a tad of Queen Bey.


Posted on May 12, 2016 .

S2E5 - Aging: Like Wine or Milk?

Virginia McLaurin

Hi In Theoryites—we’re back and talking about getting older! Especially as women who've crossed into the brave new world of being thirtysomethings. That means we’ve got on point theory for you related to andro-centrisim + biological determinism, and how they're part of calculating what Amy Schumer calls your last f*ckable day. Kidding! We hope. We’re also going to take on cultural difference and eldercare, mentorship, and poetry about wearing purple. Like for real. No need for anti-aging cream here, we LOVE getting older!

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Linda R. Gannon, Women and Aging: Transcending the Myths (London: Routledge, 1999). Feminist approach to the female body as it ages. 

Context "Talking With Your Parents About Independent Living: Starting the conversation about their options"

Eric Kleinenberg, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (Penguin, 2012). (thanks Allison McKim for the suggestion!)

Jenny Joseph, “Warning” poem (1961) 

Inside Amy Schumer: "Last F**able Day' feat. Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Patricia Arquette," 2015.


Kyle Buchanan. “Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, and Scarlett Johansson Have an Older-Man Problem.” New York Magazine. June 1, 2015. 

Kyle Buchanan. “Leading Men Age, But Their Love Interests Don’t.” New York Magazine. April 18, 2013. 

MacArthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society. “Facts and Fictions About an Aging America.” Contexts Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 16–21. Fall 2009.

Tanzina Vega.  “As Parents Age, Asian-Americans Struggle to Obey a Cultural Code.” The New York Times. January 14, 2014. 


We dig 106 year old White House visitor Virginia McLaurin, the “Parents” episode of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, and the Red Hat Society.  

This week’s music from Jay Z (2014), Gene Autry (1931) & The Beatles (1967).

Posted on April 28, 2016 .

S2E4 - Destination: VACATION

Ever tried to cram a year's worth of relaxation, adventure, and bonding into your precious few vacation days? Had a meltdown while lost down the TripAdvisor rabbit hole? Got down on yourself for feeling unproductive and wanting to ditch? This time Noorain and Maria talk about vacations: who gets to take them and who doesn't, the benefits of leaving your job both physically and mentally behind, "authentic" trips and the upsides of kicking back in a world of total artifice. Maria spills about her epic Disney Cruise experience, Noorain admits her addiction to online travel planning, and Max Weber and Jean Baudrillard toss their most vacation-relevant theories into our luggage for the trip. Whether you need some holy days of holiday reflection or just want to vacate on your vacation...all aboard!

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, transl. Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1994)., especially hyperreality.

Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905).


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights' "right to rest" (Article 24):

Rebecca Ray, Milla Sanes, and John Schmitt, "No-Vacation Nation Revisited." Center for Economic Policy and Research. May 2013.

Juliet Schor, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline Of Leisure (Basic Books, 1993).

George Tripp, "The Christian's Work Ethic" (excerpt from New Journey Fellowship Ministries sermon). July 11, 2012.  NOTE: we excerpt from this in our discussion of the Protestant Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism. Fittingly, George Tripp also has a ministry consulting company (Grace & Truth Consulting) that you can check out here.


Anne Fisher, "Why don't Americans take more time off?" Fortune Magazine. July 28, 2015.

Douglas LaBier, "So Much Work, No Time For Vacation? Here's Why!" Psychology Today Online. August 11, 2014.

Andrea Sachs, "How TripAdvisor altered your vacation planning universe." The Washington Post. August 29, 2015.

Brigid Schulte, "Leisure is the new productivity." February 4, 2015.


Plan your own Disney cruise...we are in no way sponsored by Disney, but are open to offers. ;) Or get philosophical with Robert Rowland Smith's Breakfast with Socrates: An Extraordinary (Philosophical) Journey Through Your Ordinary Day (Free Press, 2011). Or both! That great Emerson quote from the end of the episode is, for the record: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”

Music this time around by the legendary Britney Spears (work bitch!), Malian duo Amadou & Mariam, your grandma's (and Gabriel's) favorite old-time crooner Bing Crosby, and the fabulous Lana Del Rey.

Posted on April 13, 2016 .

S2E3 - Patriotic Party in the U.S.A.!


America? F YEAH-- in this episode we take patriotism back from the haters and talk about our own progressive brown lady versions of loving up on our country. We share personal stories, like the creepy Scandinavian encounter that got Maria defending the red white and blue, and how the Shiite genocide relates to Noorain's patriotism. And OF COURSE we've got to talk about country music's uncanny ability to articulate certain kinds of America love! We also give you the theoretical low-down on why we even have nations, how nationalism gets cultivated, and Benedict Anderson's work on "imagined communities". There's some real talk on how to love our country in the face of islamophobia, racist police brutality, and inequality everywhere, too. Welcome to our own Party in the U.S.A.! 


Links to Stuff We Talk About

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983)

Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983)

More on Benedict Anderson:    

Murtaza Hussain, "Pakistan's Shia genocide." Al Jazeera America. November 26, 2012.

"Pakistan: Rampant Killings of Shia by Extremists." Human Rights Watch. June 29, 2014.

Calvert Jones. "The surprising effects of study abroad." The Washington Post. August 20, 2015.

Adrienne Varkiani. "The Disturbing Rise Of Islamophobia In America." Think Progress. February 10, 2016.

Pure shade hijab:

Our original interview that got us started in talking about patriotism with the ICONIC Olive Carrolhach:

Music this week (both sampled and just referenced) from Miley Cyrus "Party in the U.S.A." + Simon and Garfunkel “America” + Jay-Z and Kanye feat. Frank Ocean “Made in America” + Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings “This Land is Your Land” + Craig Morgan, “That’s What I Love About Sunday” + Jason Aldean "Flyover States" + Beyonce's 2009 rendition of “America the Beautiful” at President Obama's first inauguration + Trisha Yearwood "American Girl" + Louis Armstrong, "I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket" - that's you, America!

Posted on March 30, 2016 .

S2E2 - Food for Thought

If you are what you eat...what does that make us as Americans today? In this MEGA-EP we're talking about food: how it gets produced, its impact on people, animals, and the environment, and how to make better decisions in the grocery store. We are super excited to feature an in-depth interview with food activist and all-around legend Kate Galassi. Then Maria and Noorain break open the world of assembly-line chickens, ask some questions about food deserts, and do their best to avoid slave shrimp. Hold on to your jicamas everyone, it's time to chow down on another episode of In Theory!

Links to Stuff We Talk About


On Fordism: Steven Tolliday & Jonathan Zeitlin, The Automobile Industry and its Workers: Between Fordism and Flexibility (New York: St.Martin's Press, 1987)


Lisa Ling takes us inside a slaughterhouse:
The US Department of Agriculture’s official definition of food deserts:     


Roberto A. Ferdman, “The key difference between what poor people and everyone else eat.” The Washington Post. September 17, 2015.

Becky Krystal, “How to find shrimp that’s not produced by slave labor in Thailand.” The Washington Post. December 16, 2015.

Margie Mason, Robin McDowell, Martha Mendoza, and Esther Htusan,“ Global supermarkets selling shrimp peeled by slaves.” The Associated Press. December 14, 2015.  

Margot Sanger-Katz, “Giving the Poor Easy Access to Healthy Food Doesn’t Mean They’ll Buy It.” The New York Times. May 8, 2015.


BIO! The wonderful Kate Galassi started her career in food working on an organic produce farm in southern New Hampshire. She’s worked for a dozen small farms and food manufacturers, most of them involved with the New York City Greenmarket. She first trained as a produce buyer at The Spotted Pig and The Breslin. In 2013 she co-founded Quinciple, a home delivery service for curated farmers’ market boxes. She is now the New York Project Head for Natoora, a London based fruit and veg supplier committed to upending the traditional distribution model by working directly with farms of all sizes.

Check out artist Mishka Henner’s amazing/insane/gorgeous/horrifying aerial photos of the toxic runoff from American feedlots:

Music this week from Judy Collins, the Presidents of the United States of America, Weird Al, and our girl Mariah. Special thanks to Beth Pearson for being a brain trust on this week's ep!

Posted on March 16, 2016 .

S2E1 - Periods: Surfing the Crimson Wave

Hey you! In Theory's back for Season 2 and we're taking on menstruation! Ever wondered why we have periods? (No really - WHYYYYY??? <cramping pain>) We've got answers for you! Turns out that menstruation is full of theory to be unpacked. This week we discuss menstrual taboos across cultures, how creative tactics can help people survive oppressive systems, Maria's dream mechanical womb, and gab about the First Moon Party you never had. This isn't just for ladies--come one, come all and surf the crimson wave with us! 

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Thomas Buckley & Alma Gottlieb. Blood Magic:  The Anthropology of Menstruation (1988).

Michel de Certeau. The Practice of Everyday Life (1984).


Natalie Angier. "Radical New View of Role of Menstruation." The New York Times. September 21, 1993.


Lauren McGuire. "The Pill and the invention of the monthly cycle." Sociological Images. December 4, 2015.

Shreya Dasgupta. "Why do women have periods when most animals don't?" BBC News. April 20, 2015.  


last year's amazing #happytobleed campaign in India :: the First Moon Party you never had ::  new products that are leveraging a body positive view of periods in their marketing:  Helloflo / Thinx / DearKate / Lola

Classic period tunes this week courtesy of Ani DiFranco and the great Dolly Parton.

Posted on March 2, 2016 .

Interview with Noorain & Maria: Part 2

Here it is, the exciting second half of our interview! Just one week away from the official start of S2...

Missed us? We’re (almost) back! In the weeks leading up to Season 2 we’re releasing this two-part interview with your co-hosts…and introducing our fab new team member Olive! Listen in for the inside scoop on how Maria and Noorain met, how the podcast came about, and reflections on growing up different in “flyover states.” (Olive’s family raised POT BELLIED PIGS!) We’re putting theory aside for the moment and just hanging out – come join! You know we won’t be able to resist nerding out, high fiving, and getting sentimental about our big-picture hopes for the future. 

Interludes in Part 2 from the Gorillaz and the Roots.

Posted on February 24, 2016 .

Interview with Noorain & Maria: Part 1

Missed us? We’re (almost) back! In the weeks leading up to Season 2 we’re releasing this two-part interview with your co-hosts…and introducing our fab new team member Olive! Listen in for the inside scoop on how Maria and Noorain met, how the podcast came about, and reflections on growing up different in “flyover states.” (Olive’s family raised POT BELLIED PIGS!) We’re putting theory aside for the moment and just hanging out – come join! You know we won’t be able to resist nerding out, high fiving, and getting sentimental about our big-picture hopes for the future. 

Interludes in Part 1 from Sylvan Esso and Little Dragon.

Posted on February 17, 2016 .

Mini-Ep: Have an Unnecessarily Sexy Halloween!


BOO! Need help picking out what to wear for Halloween? We're interrupting our own hiatus to dish on the wide range of awesomely horrific ways companies have sexed up women's and girls' Halloween costumes, from sexy pumpkins to sexy pizza rat (yes that happened). The internet has started cataloging this creepy trend every year now, but WHY is it happening? In this special between-season mini-episode, we get into the pornification of femininity and talk over Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth to understand why constraints on women's appearances don't appear to be going anywhere. Cady and the Mean Girls gang make it into this Halloween gabfest  - don't miss out! 

Links to Stuff We Talk About

Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth (HarperCollins, 1991).

And while we're at it, check out:
Costumes from Legally Blonde and Mean Girls // Maria and Noorain's picks for most absurd sexy Halloween Costumes include pumpkinsSEXY pizza rat (of Pizza Rat fame), and Donald Trump  // Sociological Images does a great annual "Sexy What?!" roundup every year; here's 2015! // other juicy commentary on sexy costumes here (is it slut shaming?), here (sexy doesn't have to be sexist!), and here (anti-pornification of femininity) 

Music from Shakira (Awooooo!).

Posted on October 27, 2015 .

Episode 9: Our Country Music Obsession Confession

Country Music Obsession Confession

Feels so right, feels so wrong, now we're crying, now we're running back for more… Tale of a bad ex? Nope! It's our flat-out love affair with country music. Join us in the last episode of Season 1 as we reveal all our feels about this much-abused genre, with a special focus on its fabulous storytelling and the time-honored tradition of lady revenge songs. We'll share some of our favorite tunes and talk about Lauren Berlant's infinitely useful theory of "the female complaint." Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and the Dixie Chicks dust off their boots (and shotguns) to help us unpack the intimate public of women's culture, which connects ladies through shared stories of suffering, broken dreams, and hellfire-n-vengeance when things get to be a little too much. C'mon down, y'all!

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Lauren Berlant, The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (Duke University Press, 2008).


"Walk the Blurred Lines:  Country Music’s Cross-Over Popularity." October 30, 2014. Nielsen.

Richard A. Peterson, Creating Country Music (University of Chicago Press, 1997)


Songs we shoutout and/or play in this episode: 

On storytelling
Brad Paisley / “Waitin’ on a Woman”
Reba McEntire / “The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia”
Deanna Carter / “Strawberry Wine”
Dolly Parton / “Jolene”

On revenge
The Dixie Chicks’ / “Goodbye Earl”
Carrie Underwood / “Before He Cheats”
Miranda Lambert  / “Gunpowder and Lead”

And some others we don't get to on the show, but that you'll not want to miss:

Carrie Underwood “Two Black Cadillacs” 
Carrie Underwood  “Blown Away” 
Miranda Lambert “Kerosene”
Reba McIntire / “Fancy” 
Patsy Cline / "Crazy" 

Bonus:  What’s a tomato in country music? Find out here ;)

Alright diamonds, we're out until Season 2 in January. But keep track of us on Twitter and on Facebook and if you've got ideas for what theories we should take up, email us at Thanks for the memories!

X Maria & Noorain

Posted on October 1, 2015 .