Rebecca Lemov's research focuses on key episodes and experiments in the history of the human and behavioral sciences. Her new book, Database of Dreams: The Lost Quest to Catalog Humanity examines attempts between 1942 and 1963 to map the elusive and subjective parts of the human psyche via once-futuristic data-storage techniques. In looking at innovations in data-gathering methods, her research investigates the ongoing transformation of knowledge, technology, and subjectivity in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Currently, she is at work on a history of coercive interrogation in relation to brainwashing.
Lemov teaches courses on brainwashing and technologies of mind control, as well as the history of the social and human sciences more broadly. A Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin in 2010-11, and again in 2013-14, she continues in two working groups there, on the Sciences of the Archive and Historicizing Big Data. Her doctoral work was at U.C. Berkeley in Anthropology and she graduated from Yale University where she studied English literature.