The University of Iowa


The Virtual Writing University (VWU) is a collaborative, interdisciplinary initiative sponsored by the Graduate College and the Office of the Provost at the University of Iowa. The project launched in fall, 2006, with the mandate to create a virtual space for the University of Iowa's writing community. Its primary venue is the Writing University website (, a portal to the programs, news, and events associated with writing at Iowa, and a platform for special VWU Projects, such as the Wing, the VWU Archives, and the Journals Project.

Support for the Virtual Writing University comes from many different areas of the University of Iowa community. We are grateful for the many staff and faculty members who have contributed their creative, technological, and administrative expertise to this initiative.

Virtual Writing University Advisory Panel

Art Borreca, director of Playwrights Workshop
Holly Carver, director of the UI Press
Lan Samantha Chang, director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop
Marc Armstrong, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication
James Elmborg (Chair), director of the School of Library and Information Science
Ed Folsom, professor of English
Robin Hemley, director of the Nonfiction Writing Program
John Keller, dean of the Graduate College
Joan Kjaer, interim director of International Programs Communications and Relations
Amy Margolis, director of the Iowa Summer Writing Festival
Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program
Todd Mundt, director of Content and Media, Iowa Public Radio
Paul Soderdahl, director of Library Information Technology, UI Libraries
Russell Valentino, editor of the Iowa Review
Jon Winet, director of the School of Art and Art History Intermedia Program

Virtual Writing University Co-Directors

James Elmborg, director of the School of Library and Information Science
Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program

Virtual Writing University Archive

James Elmborg, Faculty Director
Jean Finley, Graduate Assistant
Diana Symons, Graduate Assistant
Joanna Lee, Graduate Assistant
Amber Jansen, Graduate Assistant

The Wing

Jon Winet, Faculty Director
Derek Andes, Graduate Researcher
Kallie Holt (The Daily Palette)
Steven Strait, Technology Consultant

UNESCO City of Literature iPhone and Mobile Application Development Team

Jon Winet, Faculty Director
Derek Andes, Graduate Researcher
Zlatko Anguelov, Researcher
Jim Cremer, Consultant, Computer Science Department
Bridget Draxler, Research Consultant
Nicole Dudley, Lead Database Developer
James Elmborg, Project Consultant, School of Library and Information Science
Haowei Hsieh, Database Consultant
Peter Likarish, Database Consultant
Dat Tien Nguyen, Lead iPhone Application Developer
Cristina Sarnelli, Content Developer
Amanda Trevors, Pauline Stacchini, Database Developers
Joe Williams, Application Developer

Electronic Journals Project

Russell Valentino, Faculty Director

History of Writing at Iowa

Robin Hemley, Faculty Director
Michael Alan Potter, Graduate Assistant

Technological Support

Wendy Brown, Web Production, University Relations Web Unit
Ken Clinkenbeard, Instructional Services, Academic Technologies
Les Finken, Instructional Services, Academic Technologies
Brian Finley, School of Library and Information Science
Ann Freerks, Designer, University Relations Web Unit
Josh Kaine, University Webmaster, University Relations Web Unit
Boyd Knosp, Research Services, Academic Technologies
Andrew Rinner, Research Services, Academic Technologies
Paul Soderdahl, director of Library Information Technology, UI Libraries
Jen Wolfe, Metadata Librarian, Digital Library Services, UI Libraries

Biographies of VWU Project Leaders

James Elmborg, Co-Director, Virtual Writing University; Faculty Director of VWU Archive

Jim Elmborg's research interests focus around libraries as centers for teaching and learning. He works primarily in the area of academic librarianship. Specific interests include information literacy programming, pedagogy, and instructional technology. He chairs the university Virtual Writing University Advisory Panel and coordinates the Virtual Writing University Archive. Elmborg is affiliated faculty with the Language Literacy and Culture program in the College of Education, and he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiry (POROI).

Robin Hemley, Faculty Director, Hypertext History Project

Robin Hemley has published seven books of nonfiction and fiction. His latest book, Invented Eden, The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003) deals with a purported anthropological hoax in the Philippines. James Hamilton Paterson, writing in the London Review of Books, called Invented Eden, "brave and wholly convincing." John Leonard writes in Harpers, "Besides a terrific story, Invented Eden is a savvy caution." Invented Eden was an American Library Association's Editor's Choice book for 2003.

Robin Hemley co-edited the anthology Extreme Fiction:Fabulists and Formalists with Michael Martone (Longman, 2004), and is the author of the memoir, Nola: A Memoir Of Faith, Art And Madness (Graywolf, 1998), which won an Independent Press Book Award for Nonfiction. His popular craft book, Turning Life Into Fiction, which was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection as well as a Quality Paperback Book Club Selection, has sold over 40,000 copies and will soon be reissued by Graywolf Press. He is also the author of the novel, The Last Studebaker (Graywolf) and the story collections, The Big Ear (Blair) and All You Can Eat (Atlantic Monthly Press).

His awards for his fiction include, The Nelson Algren Award from The Chicago Tribune, The George Garrett Award for Fiction from Willow Springs, the Hugh J. Luke Award from Prairie Schooner, two Pushcart Prizes, and many others. He has published his work in many of the best literary magazines in the country, including Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Willow Springs, Boulevard, Witness, ACM, North American Review, and many others. His fiction has been widely anthologized, translated, and heard on NPR's "Selected Shorts" and others. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has taught at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Western Washington Univeristy, St. Lawrence University, Vermont College, and the University of Utah, and in many summer writing conferences. He was also the Editor-in-Chief of the Bellingham Review for five years.

Christopher Merrill, Co-Director, Virtual Writing University

Christopher Merrill’s books include four collections of poetry, Brilliant Water, Workbook, Fevers & Tides, and Watch Fire, for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; translations of Aleš Debeljak’s Anxious Moments and The City and the Child; several edited volumes, among them, The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature and From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O’Keeffe as Icon; and three books of nonfiction, The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer, The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee , and Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars. His work has been translated into sixteen languages. He has held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, and now directs the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa.

Russell Valentino, Faculty Director, Electronic Journals Project

Russell Valentino is an associate professor of Russian and Comparative Literature. His books include Vicissitudes of Genre in the Russian Novel; Persuasion and Rhetoric, translated, with an introduction and commentary, from the Italian of Carlo Michelstaedter; Materada, translated from the Italian of Fulvio Tomizza; and Between Exile and Asylum: An Eastern Epistolary, translated from the Croatian of Predrag Matvejevic. His essays, translations, and reviews have appeared in a variety of professional and literary journals, including Two Lines, The Iowa Review, Slavic Review, The Russian Review, The Bloomsbury Review, 91st Meridian, and eXchanges. His work has been supported by fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Howard Foundation, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, and the U.S. Departments of State and Education. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Autumn Hill Books, an Iowa City based press devoted to publishing literary translations in English. He serves as the director of the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Iowa. He teaches courses in Russian language, literature and literary culture, and in translation theory and practice.

Jon Winet, Faculty Director, The Experimental Wing

Jon Winet is an artist, new media artist, researcher and educator. In 2003, he joined the faculty of The University of Iowa School of Art & Art History as Area Head of the Intermedia Program. He has previously taught at the California College of Art, Maryland Institute College of Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of California, Davis, San Francisco Art Institute, University of Lethbridge, and San Francisco State University.

He is currently in pre-production on "The Electoral College," a media project exploring the 2008 U.S. presidential election and democratic practice in America. He is also part of a design team at Onomy Labs in the Silicon Valley, developing "T2ST — The Times Square of Science and Technology," a permanent installation in the atrium of the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey.

In August 2006, he launched "Zero One to the Globe — The World to San Jose," a SMS|MMS project for mobile devices as part of "ZeroOne San Jose: A Global Festival of Art on the Edge & the Thirteenth International Symposium of Electronic Art.

Earlier in the summer he completed work on "Goal 2006!," an international project on the FIFA soccer World Cup in the era of globalization. The project was shown at Rocker 33 in conjunction with the Württembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart, Germany.

Through 2004 he worked in the collaboration Margaret Crane|Jon Winet producing projects revolving around politics, art, language and image in the Information Age. During 1993-1998 they were artists in residence at Xerox PARC, a think tank in the Silicon Valley, investigating the impact of the Internet on public space. Their projects include "2004-America & The Globe," a year-long multimedia project on the US presidential elections and democratic practice in America; "The Street" a 2003-2004 art in public kiosk poster project highlight non-profit social service agencies in San Francisco; and Monument," [2002] an online hypertext project based in Newcastle Upon Tyne that explores English northeastern identity in the contemporary landscape of cultural regeneration and global economics.

Their work has been shown nationally at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo, New York; Walker Art Center and Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota; San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art and San Jose Museum of Art; Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, California; San Francisco Camerawork, Ansel Adams Center/Friends of Photography, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, California; and White Columns, New York. The artists are represented by Gallery Paule Anglimi in San Francisco.

This fall he was appointed director of the Experimental Wing of The University of Iowa Virtual Writing University. He is presently editing a 'post web' issue exploring new networks and delivery systems for experimental writing as editor of TIR Web, the online companion to the literary journal The Iowa Review.

Jon serves on the advisory boards of the artist-centered organizations NAAO, the National Association of Artists' Organizations, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Southern Exposure, San Francisco, California; and Transformer, Washington, D.C.


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