New times for biology: Nerve cultures and the advent of cellular life in vitro

This article is about the beginnings of tissue culture-the culture of living, reproducing cells of complex organisms outside the body. It argues that Ross Harrison's experiments in nerve culture between 1907 and 1910 should be viewed as part of a larger shift in early twentieth-century laboratory practice from in vivo to in vitro experimentation. Via a focus on the temporality of experiment-contrasting the live object of Harrison's investigation with the static object of histological representations-this article details the production of a new and surprising form of life, cellular life in vitro. Tissue culture, developed from Harrison's experiments, was greeted with great surprise and disbelief, despite Harrison's protestations that he had merely juxtaposed extant techniques. An analysis of these initial reactions to tissue culture illuminates the extent to which cells living visibly outside of the body in glass broke with in vivo practices and assumptions of the hiddenness and interiority of certain processes of growth and change.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/S1369-8486(02)00026-2
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,433
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Ohad Parnes (2000). The Envisioning of Cells. Science in Context 13 (1):71.
Susan M. Billings (1971). Concepts of Nerve Fiber Development, 1839-1930. Journal of the History of Biology 4 (2):275 - 305.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

11 ( #381,493 of 1,925,045 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

6 ( #140,829 of 1,925,045 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.