Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


July 9, 2010

Grants to support creation of 'City of Literature' documentary

Grants totaling $41,800 from three Iowa cultural organizations will support production of a new television documentary about Iowa's place in the literary landscape.

The film, "City of Literature," will explore the remarkable story of how Iowa City and the University of Iowa became a world-renowned center for literary arts- from verse-making in the 19th century, to the inception of the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the UI in 1936, to the declaration in 2008 of Iowa City as the world’s third "City of Literature" by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Three grants will support the film’s production: $22,300 from the State Historical Society Inc., $10,000 from Humanities Iowa and $9,500 from the Iowa Arts Council. The grants were secured with the assistance of the UI Division of Sponsored Programs and the UI Foundation.

The film will be produced by Ben Hill, a University of Iowa staff video producer who creates academic programming for the Big Ten Network; Jennifer New, an Iowa City author, curator and filmmaker; and Kecia Lynn, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, project coordinator for the UI International Writing Program and host of "Conversation from the Writers' Workshop" on the Big Ten Network.

"Our board was impressed by the University of Iowa's imaginative and pro-active template for telling an important story about the cultural dominance of Iowa,” Christopher Rossi, executive director of Humanities Iowa, said. "Through documentary film, local and national television audiences will better understand the leading literary place held by this Big Ten town -- all due to its longstanding love affair with the written word."

"City of Literature" will begin production in July 2010 and is scheduled to premiere in July 2011 as part of UI's academic programming on the Big Ten Network, as well as on UI Television. It will also be available online and will be distributed on DVD to schools and libraries throughout the state of Iowa.

The State Historical Society Inc. is a private organization dedicated to enhancing, developing, and preserving Iowa history. The mission of Iowa Arts Council, which is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, is to enrich the quality of life for Iowans through support of the arts. Humanities Iowa is a state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and seeks to promote understanding and appreciation of the people, communities, cultures, and stories of importance to Iowa and the nation.

Academic programs for Big Ten Network and other University of Iowa videos may be viewed online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Ben Hill, UI Center for Media Production, 319-384-3400,; Stephen Pradarelli, University News Services, 319-384-0007,