Can machines feel? This is one of the several intriguing questions that Malin explores in this thoughtful and informative cultural history of the social-scientific investigation of human emotion in the twentieth-century United States. Malin’s topic is broad; to render it manageable, he zooms in on examples of human–machine interaction that are of particular interest to media scholars. The social-scientific investigation of photography, of sound recording, of radio, and of motion pictures each gets a separate chapter. Medical imaging is treated only in passing; lie detectors are ignored. Although Malin has interesting things to say about various topics, including the changing character of love letters, the ethics of neuroscience, and the history of emotions, his primary quarry is the experimental tradition in corporate-funded “administrative research” that flourished in several U. S. universities in the opening decades of the twentieth century. Among the key figures in this tradition were psychologists Seashore and...

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