The University of Iowa

About Us

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 LitCity, The Undergrad Writing Portal, First-Year Seminars and the Eleventh Hour Podcast.

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

Lan Samantha Chang, director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop
Ed Folsom, Professor, Department of English
John Keller, dean of the Graduate College
Joan Kjaer, Strategic Communications Officer, International Programs Communications and Relations
Amy Margolis, director of the Iowa Summer Writing Festival
Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program
Paul Soderdahl, director of Library Information Technology, UI Libraries
Harry Stecopoulos, editor of the Iowa Review
Jon Winet, director of the School of Art and Art History Intermedia Program


Virtual Writing University Director

Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program


Virtual Writing University Archive

Thomas Keegan, Director, Digital Library Services
Mark Anderson, Digital Initiatives Librarian



LitCity Project

Thomas Keegan, Director, Digital Library Services
Jim Cremer, Consultant, Computer Science Department
Loren Glass, Faculty, English Department
Nicole Dudley, Lead Database Developer


History of Writing at Iowa

Robin Hemley
Michael Allen Potter, Graduate Assistant


Technological Support

Wendy Brown, Web Production, University Relations Web Unit
Ken Clinkenbeard, Instructional Services, Academic Technologies
Ann Freerks, Designer, University Relations Web Unit
Josh Kaine, University Webmaster, University Relations Web Unit
Andrew Rinner, Research Services, Academic Technologies
Paul Soderdahl, director of Library Information Technology, UI Libraries


Biographies of VWU Project Leaders


Christopher Merrill, 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.


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.


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