Science & Education

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 241–253 | Cite as

Competing Views of Embryos for the Twenty-First Century: Textbooks and Society

  • Jane Maienschein
  • Karen Wellner


It might seem that an embryo is an embryo, and that there would be a fact of the matter. That seems especially true with respect to the way embryos are presented in textbooks, including high school biology textbooks. This paper looks at three co-existing, competing, and often conflicting views of embryos. Then with a close study of twentieth century high school biology textbooks, it explores suggestions about the ways those books have influenced public impressions of embryos.


Human Embryo Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis Chorionic Villus Sampling High School Biology Biology Textbook 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Cera Lawrence, Kostas Kampourakis, and an unnamed reviewer who read carefully and offered unusually helpful suggestions. The research was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.


  1. BSCS. (1973). Biological science: An ecological approach (3rd ed.). Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
  2. BSCS. (1978). Biological science: An ecological approach (4th ed.). Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
  3. BSCS. (1987). Biological science: An ecological approach (6th ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt.Google Scholar
  4. Chiapetta, E. L., Sethna, G. H., & Fillman, D. A. (1993). Do middle school life science textbooks provide a balance of scientific literacy themes? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 30(7), 787–797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Culliton, B. J. (1978). Ethics advisory board confronts conception in the test tube. Science, 202, 198–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Edwards, R., & Steptoe, P. (1980). A matter of life: The story of a medical breakthrough. London: Morrow.Google Scholar
  7. Handyside, A. (2010). Let parents decide. Nature, 464, 978–979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Haraway, D. (1991). Simians, cyborgs, and women: The reinvention of nature. London: Free Association Books.Google Scholar
  9. Hopwood, N. (2009). Embryology. In P. J. Bowler & J. V. Pickstone (Eds.), The modern biological and earth sciences: Vol. 6. The Cambridge history of science (pp. 285–315), doi: 10.1017/CHOL9780521572019.017.
  10. Kimball, J. W. (1974). Biology (3rd ed.). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  11. Kimball, J. W. (1978). Biology (4th ed.). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  12. Kimball, J. W. (1994). Biology (6th ed.). Dubuque, IA: Wm C. Brown.Google Scholar
  13. Landecker, H. (2007). Culturing life: How cells became technologies. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Leavitt, J. W. (1986). Brought to Bed. Childbearing in America 1750 to 1950. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Lopez, A. (2010). Pope Pius IX. (Accessed 5 February 2011).
  16. Maienschein, J. (1991). The origins of Entwicklungsmechanik. In S. Gilbert (Ed.), A conceptual history of modern developmental biology (pp. 43–61). New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Maienschein, J. (2003). Whose view of life? Embryos, cloning, and stem cells. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Maienschein, J., Glitz, M., & Allen, G. E. (2005). Centennial history of the Carnegie Institution of Washington: Vol 5, The Department of Embryology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Maienschein, J., & Robert, J. (2010). What is an embryo and how do we know? In J. Niskar, F. Baylis, I. Karpin, C. McLeod, & R. Mykitiuk (Eds.), The healthy embryo: Social, biomedical, legal, and philosophical perspectives (pp. 1–15). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Matthews, S., & Wexler, L. (2000). Pregnant pictures. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. McLaren, J. E., Rotundo, L., & Gurley-Dilger, L. (1991). Health biology. Lexington, MA: Heath.Google Scholar
  22. Mintz, B. (1965). Genetic mosaicism in adult mice of quadriparental lineage. Science, 148, 1232–1233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Morgan, L. M. (2009). Icons of life: A cultural history of human embryos. Berkeley: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Otto, J. H., & Towle, A. (1977). Modern biology (9th ed.). New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  25. Roe, S. (1981). Matter, life, and generation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Schraer, W. D., & Stoltze, H. J. (1990). Biology: The study of life (3rd ed.). Fairfield, NJ: Cebco.Google Scholar
  27. Smallwood, W. M., & Green, E. R. (1977). Biology. Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett.Google Scholar
  28. United States. (1987). Alternative reproductive technologies: Implications for children and families: Hearing before the Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families. One Hundredth Congress, first session hearing. Washington: US Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  29. University of New South Wales, UNSW. (2010). Embryology. Accessed December 31, 2010.
  30. Wallace, B., & Simmons, G. M. (1987). Biology for living. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.Google Scholar
  31. Weinberg, S. L. (1971). Biology: An inquiry into the nature of life (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  32. Wellner, K. L. (2010). From fertilization to birth: Representing development in high school biology textbooks. Unpublished thesis, Arizona State University.Google Scholar
  33. Winfield, N. (2010). Pope Benedict urges respect for embryos. Arizona Republic and many other news services that picked up the Associated Press release, November 27, 2010, reporting on the Pope’s Vatican address.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Biology and SocietyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

Personalised recommendations