Gispen is a professor emeritus of modern European History with an emphasis on nineteenth-century and twentieth-century Germany. His particular area of expertise is the social history of technology. His publications include New Profession, Old Order: The Emergence of the Engineering Profession in Germany, 1815-1914 (Cambridge University Press, 1989); Poems in Steel: National Socialism and the Politics of Inventing from Weimar to Bonn (Berghahn Books, 2001); and articles and chapters on the history of engineers, National Socialism, and intellectual property law.
Gispen received his B.A. magna cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley in 1970 and his Ph.D. from the same institution in 1981. He has been at the University of Mississippi since 1983 and with the Croft Institute since 1998. He served as Associate Director of the Institute from 2005 to 2007 and Executive Director form 2007 to 2016. In the History Department, Gispen has taught courses on modern Germany, World War II, and the Holocaust. At Croft, he has taught Inst 101 Introduction to International Studies and Inst 205 Introduction to European Studies, and upper-division courses on various topics.