Posts tagged #media

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 .

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 .

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 .

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 .

Episode 8: Our Quantified / Cyborg Selves


Is your Fitbit turning you into a cyborg? In this week's podcast we explore the Quantified Self Movement, which encourages gathering data about ourselves in the quest for self-improvement. We get into what this means for our culture of maximization and productivity, how new technologies have helped us to think of ourselves as machines, and how the singularity movement envisions our cyborg future. On the way we talk about Donna Haraway's feminist Cyborg Manifesto, how long Ray Kurzweil thinks it will take for us to live forever, and what it means to be human. You know, the small stuff. Come "process" it all with us…resistance is futile! 

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto,” in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (Routledge, 1991) 

Reader-friendly introduction to Haraway’s cyborg manifesto in Wired

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964).


Documentary about Ray Kurzweil:


John Berman. “Futurist Ray Kurzweil Says He Can Bring His Dead Father Back to Life Through a Computer Avatar.” August 9, 2011.

Gary Wold. “The Data-Driven Life.” The New York Times Magazine. April 28, 2010.  

“Ray Kurzweil: Humans will be hybrids by 2030.” CNN Money. June 4, 2015. 


And if you’re interested, check out choice photos of White Men Wearing Google GlassM.T. Anderson’s amazing novel FEED, and the mysterious replacing-ship-parts question Maria threw out there: Ship of Theseus

Music this week from our fav electric lady Janelle Monae, Kanye, the STNG soundtrack composers, AND Styx. 

Posted on September 16, 2015 .

Episode 5: Wedding industrial complex bells are ringing

Going to the chapel of love? Time to talk about the billion-dollar wedding industry! We take you through the stats and checklists of wedding planning, and give the low-down on the capitalist origins of some major Big Day traditions. Get ready to rethink white dresses, diamond engagement rings, celebrity weddings, and where taste comes from. Appearances by Disney princess culture, Scottish kilts, promposals, Eliza Dolittle, and more!

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Pierre Bourdeiu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, translated by Richard Nice (Harvard University Press, 1984) 

Eric J. Hobsbawm, and Terence O. Ranger, eds. The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge U Press, 2010).


Vicki Howard, Brides, Inc.: American Weddings and the Business of Tradition (U of Pennsylvania Press, 2008). 

Rebecca Mead, One Perfect Day the Selling of the American Wedding (New York: Penguin Press, 2007). 

The Knot, The #1 Wedding Site, Releases 2014 Real Weddings Study Statistics.” PR Newswire. March 12, 2015.  

Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist.”


Maria Sachiko Cecire, “Reality Remixed: Neomedieval Princess Culture in Disney's Enchanted,” in The Disney Middle Ages: A Fairy-Tale and Fantasy Past, ed. Susan Aronstein and Tison Pugh. Palgrave MacMillan, 2012. 

Edward Jay Epstein, “Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?The Atlantic Magazine. February 1982. Archived online. 

Uri Friedman, “How an Ad Campaign Invented the Diamond Engagement Ring.” The Atlantic Magazine. February 13, 2015.  

Hannah Wallace, “The Marriage Industrial Complex.” May 21, 2007. 


Watch Eliza Dolittle get some linguistic cultural capital in My Fair Lady (1964) and Cher decide to share some of her cool in Clueless (1995). Now go get some of your own modern-day elite taste-making from Gwenyth Paltrow's Goop newsletter! Or just check out Lauren Conrad's Paper Crown bridesmaid dresses, as worn by her real-life bridesmaids. Also: promposals.

This episode, our tunes are interested in going to the chapel, getting to the church on time, and making sure the ladies remember that diamonds are a girl's best friend. Courtesy of the Shirelles, Ol' Blue Eyes, and Nicole Kidman.

Posted on July 22, 2015 .

Episode 4: Childhood: those golden years (or are they?)

Ahhh childhood-- those innocent years when kids use their imaginations, play outside, and have experiences that will shape them for life. Timeless, right? Except not. These understandings of childhood are pretty recent and often assume a white, middle-class, heteronormative child. We talk about where these ideas come from and some of the disturbing results when a kid doesn't conform to popular assumptions about what children "should" be like. Get ready to blow the lid off of childhood!

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Robin Bernstein. Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights. NYU Press (2011).

Sigmund Freud. "The Development of Sexual Function." An Outline of Psychoanalysis. (1940).

Viviana A. Zelizer. Pricing the Priceless Child: The Changing Social Value of Children. Princeton University Press (1994).


Hugh Cunningham, “Histories of Childhood,” in The American Historical Review 103, no. 4 (October 1998): 1195–1208.

Ezra Jack Keats. The Snowy Day. Viking Books for Young Readers (1996).

Turnette Powell. "Time Out." In Episode 538: "Is This Working?" This American Life. October 17, 2014.


Brit Bennett. "Addy Walker, American Girl." The Paris Review. May 28, 2015.

Linda Geddes. "Does sharing photos of your children on Facebook put them at risk?" The Guardian. September 21, 2014.

Anna Holmes. "White Until Proven Black: Imagining Race in Hunger Games" The New Yorker. March 30, 2012.

"Black Preschoolers Far More Likely To Be Suspended." March 21, 2014.


More on the Joker's Scar stories in The Dark Knight film (2008) here and here

Musical interludes from Taylor Swift and the Jackson Five.

Posted on July 9, 2015 .

Episode 3: Cultural Appropriation!

This time we talk about cultural appropriation: What is it? How can you know? Is eating a taco cultural appropriation? We get into the roles of context, history, and power disparities in answering these more on tattoo fails, pop music, some of Urban Outfitters' most facepalm-worthy designs, and the dangers of "strategic anti-essentialism".  

Links to Stuff We Talk About


On strategic anti-essentialism. George Lipsitz, Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism and the Poetics of Place (Verso, 1994).


Cheyenne Evans. "CULTURAL APPROPRIATION: A BRIEF DISCUSSION AND OVERVIEW." Anthropology Rocks! February 25, 2014.

Katie J.M. Baker. "A MUCH NEEDED PRIMER ON CULTURAL APPROPRIATION." Jezebel. November 13, 2012.


Abby Phillip. "Urban Outfitters sells tapestry ‘eerily reminiscent’ of Holocaust garb." The Washington Post. February 10, 2015.

Ellie Hall and Kevin Tang. "34 Ridiculous Chinese Character Tattoos Translated." Buzzfeed. August 2, 2013.

In this episode, we used music clips that represent cultural appropriation in various ways (including music that appropriates from other cultures). Read up on our music selections below. 

"Hello Kitty" by Avril Lavigne
{more on the controversy prompted by this song/video here, here and here}

"Khusara Khusara" by Egyptian musician Hassam Ramzy
{used in Jay-Z's 1999 hit "Big Pimpin'", resulting in this controversy}

"Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" from the album Graceland by Paul Simon
{more on the controversy prompted by this album here}

"Thoda Resham Lagta Hai" from the 1981 Hindi movie Jyoti
{music used in Truth Hurts' 2002 hit "Addictive"}

Posted on June 25, 2015 .

Episode 2: Why are people so nasty to women on the Internet?

In this episode we take a look at the dark sexist underbelly of the Internet. We discuss examples in blogging (like the unreasonably explosive reactions to a gluten-free woman food blogger), gaming, and social media. In the process, we take up the patriarchy, gender-based violence, and the concept of “emotion work.”

Links to Stuff We Talk About


On the patriarchy:

On emotion work:
Arlie Russell Hochschild. The Managed Heart. University of California Press. 2012. Print.  


Feminist Frequency:


Shauna James Ahern. “WARM BROWN RICE AND GRILLED VEGETABLE SALAD.” Gluten Free Girl blog.  August 30, 2011.

Maeve Duggan. "Online Harassment." Pew Research Center. October 22, 2014. Pew Study:

"Ending Violence Against Women and Girls." UN Briefing Paper. (noting Wold Bank data cited indicating women more at risk of sexual threats than cancer, accidents, etc.)

Jay Hathaway. "What Is Gamergate, and Why? An Explainer for Non-Geeks." Gawker. October 10, 2014.

Amanda Hess. “Why Women Aren't Welcome on the Internet.” Pactific Standard. January 26. 2014.

Phelan, J. E., C. A. Moss-Racusin and L. A. Rudman (2008), COMPETENT YET OUT IN THE COLD: SHIFTING CRITERIA FOR HIRING REFLECT BACKLASH TOWARD AGENTIC WOMEN. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 32: 406–413. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2008.00454.x.

Adam Serwer and Katie J.M. Baker. “How Men’s Rights Leader Paul Elam Turned Being A Deadbeat Dad Into A Moneymaking Movement.” Buzzfeed. February 5, 2015. (ugh)

Lindy West. "Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls; It Trolls for Thee" from episode 545 "If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS." January 23, 2015. This American Life


Posted on June 14, 2015 .

Episode 1: Yup, there's a Military-Entertainment Complex...

We kick off In Theory by diving into the Military-Entertainment Complex. In this episode, we figure out how ISIS co-opted one of the most successful video games of all time and that gets us to Top Gun, Katniss Everdeen, and theories of nationhood...

Links to stuff we talk about


Stephen Stockwell and Adam Muir, “The Military-Entertainment Complex: A New Facet of Information Warfare” The Fibreculture Journal, Vol. 1 (2003). Web. URL:

Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture. New York University Press, 2006. Print.

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso, 2006.

Articles (selection)

On ISIS’s use of gaming in its recruitment video:

Paul Tassi, “ISIS Uses 'GTA 5' In New Teen Recruitment Video,” September 20, 2014. Web. URL:

Jay Caspian Kang, “ISIS’ Call of Duty,” The New Yorker Online. September 18, 2014. Web. URL:

Ted Thornhill, “Isis use top video game Grand Theft Auto 5 to recruit children and radicalise the vulnerable,” Daily Mail Online. 22 September 2014. Web. URL:

On Hunger Games Advertising & Responses:

Brooks Barnes, “How ‘Hunger Games’ Built Up Must-See Fever,” NY Times Online. March 18, 2012. Web. URL:

Jess Denham, "Mockingjay Part 1 pulled from Thai cinemas after students flash three-finger Hunger Games salute at country's prime minister," The Independent Online. November 20, 2014. Web. URL:  

Posted on May 29, 2015 .