Thomas Heise, Ph.D.

thomas heise
Associate Professor, American Studies
Associate Professor, English
Penn State Abington
1600 Woodland Road
Abington, PA 19001
The Gentrification Book Image

Professor Heise is a writer and scholar whose work explores issues of memory, urban culture, and twentieth and twenty-first-century American literature.  

He is the author of four books: The Gentrification Plot: New York and the Postindustrial Crime Novel (Columbia University Press, 2022) which is part of the Literature Now series; the lyrical novel Moth (Sarabande, 2013) which was a Publishers Weekly “Best New Books” and a Finalist for the ForeWord “Book of the Year Award”; Urban Underworlds: A Geography of Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture (Rutgers University Press, 2011), which is part of the American Literatures Initiative; and the volume Horror Vacui: Poems (Sarabande, 2006), whose title poem won the Gulf Coast Prize in Poetry. His creative and scholarly work have appeared in Chicago Review, Ploughshares, The Brooklyn Rail, The Missouri Review, American Literary History, Modern Fiction Studies, African American Review, and elsewhere. 

Professor Heise has been the recipient of two fellowships to MacDowell, as well as fellowships to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Rensing Center. He has also been a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome. His writing and research have been supported by several grants, including the Ryerson Creative Fund and Le Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture. Prior to joining the faculty at Abington, he was a tenured Associate Professor at McGill University.  

Moth Book Image
urban underworld book cover


The Gentrification Plot: New York and the Postindustrial Crime Novel. Literature Now series. Columbia University Press, 2021. 1-300.

See Amazon link.

Moth; or how I came to be with you again. Sarabande Books, 2013.1-176.

See Amazon link.

Urban Underworlds: A Geography of Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture. American Literatures Initiative. Rutgers University Press, 2011. 1-292.

See Amazon link.

Horror Vacui: Poems. Sarabande Books, 2006. 1-84.

See Amazon link.

Scholarly Essays, Book Chapters

“Writing the Ghetto, Inventing the Slum.” The City in American Literature and Culture. Ed. Kevin McNamara. (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021). 70-84.

“Time and Space in Detective Fiction.” The Routledge Companion to Crime Fiction. Ed. Janice Allan, Jesper Gulddal, Stewart King, and Andrew Pepper. Routledge, 2020. 219-226.

“Libertarian Fictions: Violence and the Free-Market Radicalism of 1980s Literature.” American Literature in Transition: 1980-1990. Ed. Quentin Miller. Cambridge University Press, 2018. 270-283.

“Remembrance of Things Imagined: Urban Development and the Fictions of Memory.” American Literary History. 28.1, 2016. 210-222.

“Detecting Chinatown: New York, Crime Fiction, and the Politics of Urban Inscrutability.” Spaces – Communities – Representations: Urban Transformations in the U.S.A. Ed. Julia Sattler. Transcript-Verlag Press, 2015. 7-30.

“Subterranean Worlds: Urban Redevelopment, Queer Spaces, and John Rechy’s City of Night.” The Textual Outlaw: Reading John Rechy in the 21st Century. Ed. Manuel M. Martín-Rodríguez and Beth Hernandez-Jason. Universidad de Alcalá, 2015. 23-42.

“Richard Price’s Lower East Side: Cops, Culture, and Gentrification.” Journal of Urban Cultural Studies. 1.2, 2014. 235-254.

“Don DeLillo.” The Cambridge Companion to American Novelists. Ed. Timothy Parrish. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 290-300.

“The Crimes of Punishment: The Tortured Logic of Mickey Spillane’s Kiss Me, Deadly.” The Journal of Popular Culture. 45.1, 2012. 56-78.

“Fitzgerald’s Depression.” Berfrois. September  2012.…

“American Psycho: Neoliberal Fantasies and the Death of Downtown.” Arizona Quarterly. 67.1, 2011. 136-160.

“Degenerate Sex and the City: Djuna Barnes’s Urban Underworld.” Twentieth-Century Literature. 55.3, 2009. 287-321.

“Harlem is Burning: Urban Rioting and the ‘Black Underclass’ in Chester Himes’s Blind Man with a Pistol.” African American Review. 41.3, 2007. 487-506.

“‘Going Blood-Simple Like the Natives’: Contagious Urban Spaces and Modern Power in Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest.” Modern Fiction Studies. 51.3, 2005. 485-512.

“‘A Rough and Lurid Vision’: Henry James’s Adventure in the Ethnic Underworld of New York City.” The Image of the City in Literature, Media, and Society. Ed. Will Wright and Stephen Kaplan. Boulder: Colorado State University, 2003. 141-148.

“Race, Writing, and Morality: Cultural Conversations in the Works of Ralph Ellison.” BioCritiques: Ralph Ellison. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Press, 2003. 51-76.

“The ‘Purposeless Splendor’ of the Ideal in the Fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald.” BioCritiques: F. Scott Fitzgerald. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Press, 2002. 47-66.

Horror Vacui: Poems Image

Creative Writing in Journals

“My Beautiful City.” The Brooklyn Rail: Critical Perspectives on Art, Politics and Culture. March 2021. 7-11.

 “Ghost Money.” Chicago Review. 63.3-4, 2020. 148-154.
“Excerpt from Night Blooms.” Tampa Review Online. 8 Nov. 2019.

“from The Disquieting Muses.” Berfrois. Ed. Russell Bennetts. London: Pendant Publishing March 10, 2015. 4600 words.

“from Moth.” Berfrois. Ed. Russell Bennetts. London: Pendant Publishing. July 16, 2013. 2600 words.

“from Moth.” Gulf Coast: a Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. 25.1 (Fall 2012). 124-127.

“from Moth.” The Missouri Review. Vol. 34, No. 4 (Winter 2011). 171-179.

“from Moth” (originally published as “from The Journal of X”). Columbia Poetry Review. No. 22, 2009. 46-50.

“from Moth” (originally published as “from The Journal of X”). Another Chicago Magazine. No. 48.2, 2009. 53-56.

“from Moth” (originally published as “from The Journal of X”). The Modern Review. Vol. 3.1, 2007. 27-35.

“Examination.” The Laurel Review. Vol. 41.2, 2007. 50-51.

“from Moth” (originally published as “from The Journal of X”). Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. Issue 44, 2007. 33-40.

“from Moth” (originally published as “from The Journal of X”). The Canary. No. 6, 2007. 42-47.

“These New Days [‘Last Night’]” and “These New Days [‘After the Massacre of Lost Objects’].” Conduit. No. 17, Fall 2006. 16-17.

“Corrections.” Verse. Vol. 22.1, 2005. 121.

“Horror Vacui.” Gulf Coast: a Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. Vol. 17.1, 2005. 12-15.

“Examination [2]” and “Rosary.” Slope. No. 21, Winter 2004 05.

“Exeat” and “Red Giant, White Dwarf.” Gulf Coast: a Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. Vol. 16.2, 2004. 237-241.

“Noctuary” and “The End of the Imaginary.” Forklift, Ohio. No. 13, 2004.

“My Pieta” and “Terra Incognita.” The Journal. Spring 2003. 166-169.

“Plan B.” Ploughshares. Vol. 28.4, 2002-03. 70.

“Wreckage,” “The Sewer,” and “The American Museum of Natural History.” The Cream City Review. Vol. 26.2, 2002.

“Ghazal for the Body” and “Imaginary Sanitarium.” Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. Spring/Summer 2002. 47-50.

“The Remainder.” Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. Issue 34, Winter 2001. 25.

“Obituary [first draft],” “Obituary [revised],” “First Order of Appearances,” and “Second Order of Appearances.” Indiana Review. No. 23.1, Spring 2001. 84-90.

“The End of Travel.” Southern Humanities Review. Vol. 34, Fall 2000. 328-329.

“The Orchard of Orange Trees” and “The Affair.” Washington Square. Issue 5, Summer 1999. 15-20.

“Ghazal: Inertia” and “El Dia de los Muertos.” Hayden’s Ferry Review. Issue 20, Spring / Summer 1997. 8-10.

Creative Writing in Anthologies

The Brooklyn Poets Anthology. “New York City.” Ed. Jason Koo and Joe Pan. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Arts Press, 2017. 138-139.

Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century. “Zombie,” “Corrections,” and “My Pietà.” Ed.. Michael Dumanis and Cate Marvin. Louisville, KY: Sarabande Books, 2006.163-166.

Ph.D., English, New York University.

M.A., Creative Writing, University of California, Davis.

B.A., English, summa cum laude, Florida State University.