IntroductionEgenis Associate Fellow Staffan Müller-Wille is the co-author of a new book, 'A Cultural History of Heredity'.
Dr Müller-Wille, a Senior Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Exeter, has written the book with his long-term collaborator Professor Hans-Jörg Rheinberger.
Heredity first began to enter debates among physicians, breeders, and naturalist after about 1800, and has since become one of the most fundamental concepts in biology. Dr Müller-Wille and Prof Rheinberger offer a succinct cultural history of the scientific concept of heredity, outlining the dramatic changes the idea has undergone since the early modern period and describing the political and technological developments that brought about these changes.
In just one of the glowing testimonies the book has received , Prof Daniel Kevles of Yale University writes: "Staffan Müller-Wille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger masterfully delineate the evolution of the concept of heredity since the late eighteenth century, its transformation from the cultural metaphors of gardens and families to the biological tools of genetic engineering and the genome. Breathtaking in scope, their book ranges across multiple national boundaries and illuminates how ideas of heredity were — and continue to be — shaped by forces of culture, law, medicine, technology, and markets. In all, a compelling and original synthesis of a vast body of primary sources and recent scholarship."
A Cultural History of Heredity, Staffan Müller-Wille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, published by University of Chicago Press, price $45, ISBN: 9780226545707.