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 Wiredhttp://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02/ffharaway_pr.html

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964). https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/understanding-media


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. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/futurist-ray-kurzweil-bring-dead-father-back-life/story?id=14267712

Gary Wold. “The Data-Driven Life.” The New York Times Magazine. April 28, 2010.  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/magazine/02self-measurement-t.html?_r=0  

“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 7: A Crash Course in Apocalyptic Prophecy

From the folks on the street distributing pamphlets about Armageddon to the rise of survivalists and doomsday preppers, the apocalypse seems to be everywhere. In this episode we get a crash course in the end of the world as we know it from Dr. Anbara Khalidi of Wadham College, Oxford. We find out what the Christian apocalypse is supposed to look like, why people get so passionate about it, and how Foucault's theories of discourses can help us make sense of it all. Dexter, exorcisms, and rains of frogs all make their appearances...so get prepped ya'll, In Theory's doing the Apocalypse--now! 

Links to Stuff We Talk About


On discourses:
Michel Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge & the Discourse on Language. Vintage, 1982. Helpful overview here.

On global-scale paranoia:
Emily Apter, “On Oneworldedness: Or Paranoia as a World System,” American Literary History 18.2 (2006) 365-389.

On Muslim apocalyptic literature:
David Cook, Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature. Syracuse University Press, 2008. 



The website Rapture Ready has an index of the signs and portents of the coming apocalypse.

The apocalypse is described in the final book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation

Left Behind is one apocalyptic book and film series that Anbara works on--it's not small beans, over 65 million copies of the books have been sold to date!



Tara Brady. “Fill the pool with fish and stockpile the guns: Up to THREE MILLION 'Preppers' in the U.S. are prepared for for the end of the world.” The Daily Mail Online. February 11, 2012.

Anbara Khalidi. “Exorcism, Male Power, and the Murder of E'Dena Hines.” Jezebel.com. August 18, 2015. 

Chris Michaud. “One in seven thinks end of world is coming: poll.”  Reuters Online. May 1, 2012.

Stephanie Pappas. “The Draw of Doomsday: Why People Look Forward to the End.” Live Science. May 16, 2011. http://www.livescience.com/14179-doomsday-psychology-21-judgment-day-apocalypse.html.

Matt Ridley. “Apocalypse Not: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry About End Times.” Wired Magazine Online. August 17, 2012. http://www.wired.com/2012/08/ff_apocalypsenot/



This week we're listening to R.E.M., Britney, and Whitney (RIP girl). And one of the best episodes of High Maintenance happened to be about a survivalist, so Noorain watched Season 2's Geiger. 

Posted on September 3, 2015 .

Season 1 Gab: SHORTS! on Celebrities, Noorain's Wedding, News, & Vacations

Listen to segments separately:

It's summer, and In Theory brings you shorts we've recorded over the past few months that are just a little bit shorter and little bit sweeter. Perfect for between quick dips in the water at the beach! This week’s shorts are on celeb culture, Noorain's wedding, how we get the news, and our summer vacations. Come on in, the water's fine!

Links to Stuff We Talk About:

CELEBRITIES (and why they matter)

This one is on celebrity culture: why we love to talk about celebrities and how celeb gossip can be meaningful in our lives (even if we never meet Snooki or the Hemsworths ourselves).

On moral dilemmas in reality TV:  

Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture, Ch. 2: “Buying into American Idol: How We are Being Sold on Reality TV.” New York University Press, 2006. Print.

 Hollywood scandals and why celebrity gossip matters:

Anne Helen Peterson, Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema. Plume, 2014.

Allie Merriam. Let an Academic Explain Why Your Celebrity Obsession Is Perfectly Normal. Buzzfeed. 27 Oct. 2014. 

MOAR Anne Helen Peterson:

Anne Helen Peterson. “Jennifer Lawrence and the History of Cool Girls.” Buzzfeed. 28 Feb. 2014. 

Gossip, or “Rumor” (“compared with whom no other is as swift”!) in Classical literature:  

Virgil, The Aeneid, Book IV:  http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/VirgilAeneidIV.htm#anchor_Toc342021


NOORAIN’S WEDDING (reflections 2 years on)

Following up on Episode 5’s discussion of the Wedding Industrial Complex, Noorain talks us through some of the pressures she felt and decisions she made when planning her own South Asian-American wedding.

Abha Bhattarai. Lavish Indian weddings help D.C.-area hotels turn handsome profitThe Washington Post. 13 Feb. 15. 

Shalene Gupta. Big fat Indian weddings get bigger and fatterFortune. 8 Aug. 2014. 

And if you're curious about commentary on the class issues associated with weddings in Pakistan, check out this and this


NEWS (how N&M get theirs)

Maria and Noorain share how they keep up on the news every day: their favorite sources, apps, and thoughts on social media’s role in informing us today.

Noorain’s sources of choice:

NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/

NY Magazine: http://nymag.com/

Maria’s morning news routine:

Hourly News App: http://hourlynewsapp.com/

The Skimm: http://www.theskimm.com/

NPR App: http://www.npr.org/services/mobile/iphone.php

Getting news from social media: 

Pew Study, “How Social Media is Rehaping News” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/24/how-social-media-is-reshaping-news/



Noorain and Maria bring each other up to speed on their summer travels, with detours to talk about amusement parks old and new, the importance of taking (and planning!) vacations, and unlimited soda.

“Happiness is ... looking forward to your vacation.“ Science Daily. 19 Feb 2010.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100218125204.htm

Tanya Mohn. “U.S. The Only Advanced Economy That Does Not Require Employers To Provide Paid Vacation Time, Report Says.” Forbes.com. 13 August 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyamohn/2013/08/13/paid-time-off-forget-about-it-a-report-looks-at-how-the-u-s-compares-to-other-countries/

On the West's imagination of the East as an exotic destination:

 Edward Said, Orientalism. Vintage, 1978.

Tivoli GardensDisneyland! Lake Compounce! Be a pro like Noorain and get through Disneyland lines faster with MouseWait.

Posted on August 19, 2015 .

Episode 6: Paleoworld

Banksy Caveman

What is it about our paleolithic ancestors that makes us (and celebs from Miley Cyrus to Matthew McConaughey) want to adopt their hunter-gatherer ways? This week, we take on the Paleo Diet and explore the notion that getting back to our Stone Age roots can help us lead healthier, happier lives. That gets us deep into evolutionary theory, from Darwin’s concept of survival of the fittest to the science in Jurassic Park to our personal gut bacteria...and even a bogus explanation of why ladies love pink. Sharpen your sticks, friends: we’re going to hunt down some answers.

Links to Stuff We Talk About


Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species. 1859. 

M. Zuk, Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet,
and How We Live
. New York:  W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.


Michael Moss. Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2014.  (quickie NYTimes Magazine version here)


Jef Akst, "Gut bacteria are what we eat." The Scientist. April 7, 2010. 

Ferris Jabr, "How to Really Eat Like a Hunter-Gatherer: Why the Paleo Diet Is Half-Baked." Scientific American. June 3, 2013. 

Tim Spector, "The Paleo diet is absurd, science says." Fortune.com. June 25, 2015. 


To read up on the original, trademarked Paleo Diet, visit Loren Cordain's website here.

Back in the day corn used to look different, check out just how different here

On this episode, we shared some facepalm-worthy examples of evolutionary psychology absurdities, check them (and some others) out here, here and here. (But don't get too down, this will make you feel better about evolutionary psychology!) 

This episode, our tunes are provided by Cher Lloyd (luv her), the original Jurassic Park movie, and our fav prehistoric fam,The Flintstones. YABADABADOO!


Posted on August 5, 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.” RealSimple.com


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.” Salon.com. 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). http://nyupress.org/books/9780814787083/.

Sigmund Freud. "The Development of Sexual Function." An Outline of Psychoanalysis. (1940). http://www.cla.csulb.edu/departments/hdev/facultyinfo/documents/freud_developmentofsexualfunction.pdf

Viviana A. Zelizer. Pricing the Priceless Child: The Changing Social Value of Children. Princeton University Press (1994). http://press.princeton.edu/titles/5452.html.


Hugh Cunningham, “Histories of Childhood,” in The American Historical Review 103, no. 4 (October 1998): 1195–1208. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2651207.

Ezra Jack Keats. The Snowy Day. Viking Books for Young Readers (1996). http://www.amazon.com/The-Snowy-Day-Board-Book/dp/0670867330.

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. http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/05/28/addy-walker-american-girl/.

Linda Geddes. "Does sharing photos of your children on Facebook put them at risk?" The Guardian. September 21, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/21/children-privacy-online-facebook-photos.

Anna Holmes. "White Until Proven Black: Imagining Race in Hunger Games" The New Yorker. March 30, 2012. http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/white-until-proven-black-imagining-race-in-hunger-games.

"Black Preschoolers Far More Likely To Be Suspended." NPR.org. March 21, 2014. http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/03/21/292456211/black-preschoolers-far-more-likely-to-be-suspended.


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 questions...plus 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). http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Crossroads-Popular-Postmodernism-Haymarket/dp/1859840353


Cheyenne Evans. "CULTURAL APPROPRIATION: A BRIEF DISCUSSION AND OVERVIEW." Anthropology Rocks! February 25, 2014. https://anthropologyrocks.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/cultural-appropriation-a-brief-discussion-and-overview/

Katie J.M. Baker. "A MUCH NEEDED PRIMER ON CULTURAL APPROPRIATION." Jezebel. November 13, 2012. http://jezebel.com/5959698/a-much-needed-primer-on-cultural-appropriation


Abby Phillip. "Urban Outfitters sells tapestry ‘eerily reminiscent’ of Holocaust garb." The Washington Post. February 10, 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/02/10/urban-outfitters-sells-tapestry-eerily-reminiscent-of-holocaust-garb/

Ellie Hall and Kevin Tang. "34 Ridiculous Chinese Character Tattoos Translated." Buzzfeed. August 2, 2013. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ellievhall/ridiculous-chinese-character-tattoos-translated#.lgKN03nzq6

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:  http://www.feministfrequency.com/


Shauna James Ahern. “WARM BROWN RICE AND GRILLED VEGETABLE SALAD.” Gluten Free Girl blog.  August 30, 2011. http://glutenfreegirl.com/2011/08/warm-brown-rice-and-grilled-vegetable-salad/

Maeve Duggan. "Online Harassment." Pew Research Center. October 22, 2014. Pew Study: http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/10/22/online-harassment/

"Ending Violence Against Women and Girls." UN Briefing Paper. http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/briefingpapers/endviol/ (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. http://gawker.com/what-is-gamergate-and-why-an-explainer-for-non-geeks-1642909080

Amanda Hess. “Why Women Aren't Welcome on the Internet.” Pactific Standard. January 26. 2014. http://www.psmag.com/health-and-behavior/women-arent-welcome-internet-72170

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.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2008.00454.x/abstract.

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. http://www.buzzfeed.com/adamserwer/how-mens-rights-leader-paul-elam-turned-being-a-deadbeat-dad#.rsp26Qd4l (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 Lifehttp://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/545/if-you-dont-have-anything-nice-to-say-say-it-in-all-caps.


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: http://one.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-004-the-military-entertainment-complex-a-new-facet-of-information-warfare

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,” Forbes.com. September 20, 2014. Web. URL: http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/09/20/isis-uses-gta-5-in-new-teen-recruitment-video/

Jay Caspian Kang, “ISIS’ Call of Duty,” The New Yorker Online. September 18, 2014. Web. URL: http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/isis-video-game

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: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2765414/Isis-use-video-game-Grand-Theft-Auto-5-recruit-children-radicalise-vulnerable.html#ixzz3PyVyM8wv

On Hunger Games Advertising & Responses:

Brooks Barnes, “How ‘Hunger Games’ Built Up Must-See Fever,” NY Times Online. March 18, 2012. Web. URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/business/media/how-hunger-games-built-up-must-see-fever.html

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: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/mockingjay-part-1-pulled-from-thai-cinemas-after-students-flash-threefinger-hunger-games-salute-at-countrys-prime-minister-9873062.html  

Posted on May 29, 2015 .