Mittwoch, 05. April 2017, 15:00 - 16:30 iCal

Public lecture Dr. Hanna Lucia Worliczek

The visual disciplinarization of the cytoskeleton. On the metamorphosis of cell biology through the adoption of immunofluorescence imaging.

Hs. 3E im Neuen Institutsgebäude (NIG)
Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Wien


This paper traces a substantial visual, epistemic and disciplinary change in cell biology during the 1970s, a field strongly associated with evidence from microscopic imaging. This change was initiated by the adoption of immunofluorescence microscopy from diagnostic research on infectious diseases. The use of fluorescent dyes in combination with artificially produced antibodies made it possible to stain proteins of interest specifically, thereby allowing for a visualisation of the molecular architecture of cell components. In comparison with electron microscopy, the dominant imaging method of the 1950s and 1960s in cell biology, the epistemic qualities of this new technique allowed researchers to acquire different and novel kinds of knowledge. Cell biologists defined what had thus far remained a hypothetical cellular entity using immunofluorescence microscopy: the cytoskeleton as a network of fibres that was responsible for cell shape and motility. The application and establishment of this imaging method re-defined the cytoskeleton as a complex evidence-based entity of significance equal to that of canonised structures such as the cell nucleus. Based on interviews and sources from professional institutions in the USA, such as the Journal of Cell Biology and the American Society for Cell Biology, I will trace the development of a new sub-discipline: cytoskeleton research. I aim to understand and reconstruct how this new field was established until the early 1980s and how visual evidence from a recently adopted imaging method was used to re-shape the field of cell biology.

Hanna Lucia Worliczek is a fellow of the DK program "The Sciences in Historical, Philosophical and Cultural Contexts" at the University of Vienna.


Doktoratskolleg "Naturwissenschaften im historischen, philosophischen und kulturellen Kontext"


Mag. Mag. Mag. Ramon Pils, DipTrans
Institut für Geschichte
01 4277 40872