WEBSITE(S)| Spaish and Portuguese Studies | Latin American Studies | Center for Environmental Studies | Medical Humanities

Gisela Heffes is a writer, ecocritic, and public intellectual with a particular focus on literature, media, and the environment in Latin America. Her highly reviewed book Políticas de la destrucción / Poéticas de la preservación (2013), currently translated into English, examines narratives from the mid-twentieth century to the present that are related to the environment in Latin America and analyzes how these texts refer to both the conservation and destruction of nature. Her previous book, Las ciudades imaginarias en la literatura latinoamericana (2008), is a detailed study of the literary representations of non-existent urban spaces and their significance in the wider political and cultural framework of Latin America, oscillating between utopian promise and dystopian warning. Since the early 2010, she has widened her research on environmental and biopolitical issues in Latin America, for instance, with regard to the cultural significance of trash, habits of consumption, and toxic bodies.

Together with Jennifer French, Heffes recently edited The Latin American Ecocultural Reader (2021), the most comprehensive anthology of literary and cultural texts about the natural world across Latin America from the early colonial period to the present, and most recently she extended her work in the environmental humanities to include visions of the posthuman in Latin American cinema. Heffes is currently working on a book-length project on toxic nature, mutated bodies, and altered landscapes in contemporary Southern Cone narratives and cinema.

In addition to her scholarly work, Gisela Heffes is an active fiction writer, having published the novels Ischia (2000), Praga (2001), and Ischia, Praga & Bruselas (2005). This was followed by Glossa Urbana (2012), a collection of short stories, Aldea Lounge (2014), a series of poetic chronicles, and the novella Sophie La Belle and the Miniature Cities, which appeared in both Spanish and English in 2016. In 2020, she published El cero móvil de su boca/The Mobile Zero of Its Mouth, a bilingual book of poetry, and the novel Cocodrilos en la noche.


Selected Publications

1. Books and Edited Volumes

  • Ed. with Carolyn Fornoff, Pushing Past the Human in Latin American Cinema (Albany, NY: SUNY Press 2021).
  • Ed. with Jennifer French, The Latin American Eco-Cultural Reader (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2021).
  • Ed., Ecocrítica en Latinoamerica, special issue of Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericanano 79 (2014).
  • Políticas de la destrucción/Poéticas de la preservación: Apuntes para una lectura (eco)crítica del medioambiente en América Latina (Rosario: Beatriz Viterbo, 2013).
  • Ed., Utopías urbanas: geopolíticas del deseo en América Latina (Madrid: Iberoamericana-Vervuert, 2013).
  • Ed., Poéticas de los (dis)locamientos (Houston, TX: Literal Publishing, 2012).
  • Las ciudades imaginarias en la literatura latinoamericana (Rosario: Beatriz Viterbo, 2008).
  • Ed., Judíos/Argentinos/Escritores (Buenos Aires: Atril, 1999).

2. Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Ecocriticism,” in Guillermina DeFerrari and Mariano Siskind (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Latin American Literary and Cultural Forms (New York: Routledge, forthcoming in 2022).
  • “Exclusive Natures: Latin American Cities in Urban Ecocritical Perspectives,” in José Manuel Marrero Henríquez (ed.), Hispanic Ecocriticism (Berlin: Peter Lang, 2019), 199-224.
  • “Toxic Nature: Contaminated Bodies and Mutated Landscapes in Argentine Narratives,” in Ana Maria Mutis, Elizabeth Pettinaroli, and Ilka Kressner (eds.), Ecofiction and Ecorealities: Slow Violence and the Environment in Latin America and the Hispanic/Latino/a/Latinx World (New York: Routledge, 2019), 55-73.
  • “Escritura ex oikos: reflexiones en torno al proyecto dislocados y la creación de un repositorio digital,” Istor: Revista de historia internacional 71 (2018), 209-17.
  • “Naturaleza apropiada: Imaginario ecológico y utopía en las urbanizaciones privadas del siglo XXI,” Telar: Revista del Instituto Interdisciplinario de Estudios Latinoamericanos 17 (2016), 105-28.
  • “Muerte y transfiguración de la ciudad: Territorios urbanos, cuerpos y marginalidad,” Cuadernos de Literatura 15/32 (July-December 2012), 125-52.
  • “Southern Displacements in Flora Tristán’s Peregrinaciones de una paria,” in Kim Beauchesne and Alessandra Santos (eds.), The Utopian Impulse in Latin America (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 131-43.
  • “Utopia, Anarchism, and the Political Implications of Emotions,” in Laurence Davis and Ruth Kinna (eds.), Anarchism and Utopianism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010), 118-30.
  • “De la utopía fracasada a la formulación utópica en las ‘nuevas escrituras’: El problema del Estado-Nación y el caso Cuba,” Romance Review 13 (March 2004), 79-101.

Research Areas

Latin American Literature, Film, and Culture; Theories of Space and Urban Imaginaries; Ecocriticism and Environmental Humanities; Jewish Literature and Culture


PhD, Yale University

Teaching Areas

Spanish and Portuguese Studies

Latin American Studies

Environmental Studies

Medical Humanities


Changes or additions to profiles.rice.edu will not take effect on the Rice sub-sites until after its next refresh which occurs at 5:15am, 10:15am, 1:15pm, 4:15pm and 7:15pm daily. (This does not affect profiles.rice.edu)