Thomas Heise, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, American Studies
Assistant Professor, English
Office Phone: 215-881-7951
Office Location: Sutherland, 415

Bottom Fields



Ph.D., English, New York University.

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

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

Research Interests

Creative writing; contemporary American literature; city life and culture; crime narratives.


Moth; or how I came to be with you again. (Sarabande Books, 2013).

Urban Underworlds: A Geography of Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture. (Rutgers University Press, 2011).

Horror Vacui: Poems. (Sarabande Books, 2006).


“Libertarian Fictions: Violence and the Free-Market Radicalism of 1980s Literature.” American Literature in Transition: 1980-1990. Ed. Quentin Miller. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2017).

“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.

Review of Circulation and the City: Essays on Urban Culture. Eds. W. Straw & A. Boutros. English Studies in Canada. 36.2-3, 2010. 227-231.

“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.

Honors and Grants

The Ryerson Creative Fund. 2015 – 2016.

Start-Up Fund, Ryerson University, 2014 – 2019.

Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC).

«L’Amérique des bas-fonds. Une géographie de la littérature et de la
culture urbaines de 1945 à 2000.» 2010 – 2013.

Finalist for ForeWord “Book of the Year Award” for Moth, 2013.

Publishers Weekly Picks, “Best New Books” for Moth, July 2013.

The Missouri Review Poem of the Week, February 2012.

Pushcart Prize Best of the Small Presses Nomination, Columbia Poetry Review,

Joe Weixlmann Award for Best Essay on twentieth-century African-American
literature, Honorable Mention, African American Review. 2008.

Travel Grant, McGill University 2008.

Start-up Grant, McGill University, 2005 – 2008.

Arts Undergraduate Society Research Grant, McGill University. 2005 – 2008.

Academy of American Poets “Noted Book” for Horror Vacui, 2007.

Robert Frost Fellowship in Poetry, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference,
Middlebury College, 2006.

New York University Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship. 2003 – 2004.

Gulf Coast Prize in Poetry, 2004.

Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Work-Study Scholarship, Middlebury College, 2003.


The MacDowell Colony, Writer-in-Residence, Peterborough, NH, 2015.

Millay Colony for the Arts, Writer-in-Residence, Austerlitz, NY, 2003.

Courses Taught

ENGL 50: Introduction to Creative Writing

ENGL 213: Introduction to Poetry Writing

ENGL 402: The City in American Literature

ENGL 415: Advanced Creative Nonfiction

ENGL 436: American Fiction Since 1945

Prior Academic Appointments

2014 – 2016 Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, Department of English, Ryerson University

2011 – 2013 Associate Professor (tenured) of American Literature, Department of English, McGill University

2005 – 2011 Assistant Professor of American Literature, Department of English, McGill University