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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 17, 2010

UI development team launches Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature iPhone App

The University of Iowa Writing University has released a new iPhone app that focuses on the writing tradition of the University of Iowa and Iowa City, a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature iPhone app is the inaugural project of the University of Iowa UNESCO City of Literature Mobile Application Development Team, an interdisciplinary group of UI faculty, staff and graduate and undergraduate students from the departments of English and Computer Science; the Schools of Library and Information Science and Art and Art History; and the staff of the Virtual Writing University.

Download the app at

"This is the first iPhone app of its kind among the 25 members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and has moved Iowa City into a leadership position in that network," said Jeanette Pilak, executive director Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature. "I was in Korea last month for a UNESCO forum and, I must say, the 'hot lick' of the entire forum was not all the economic development and cultural tourism buzz, but how Iowa City had moved from 'best practices' to 'next practices.' "The first week in December there is a UNESCO Creative Cities conference in Shenzen, China, and Iowa City has been asked to lead a workshop on 'Technology and Literature.'"  

The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature app -- "City of Lit" -- features information on Iowa City's rich literary history, highlighting authors and local sites of interest. Visitors can guide themselves around town in literary style. The app offers maps of Iowa City, with embedded electronic "brass plaques" indicating a variety of unique locations: where historic readings took place, where authors wrote and lived, and the legendary taverns and haunts where writers gathered to argue and discuss.

Author profiles, biographical and bibliographic information are complemented with audio and video clips.

The app also features “News” and “Events” tabs that are constantly updated with reports from Iowa City, including goings-on around town, readings, book launches, films and lectures. New authors and materials will be frequently added to the app. Additional interactive features are planned for future updates of the app.

Visit the City of Literature site at For support for the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature iPhone application, or e-mail

For 80 years, Iowa City has been teaching the world to write. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop pioneered the teaching of creative writing at the university level. Dozens of creative programs within the university and the city followed. The newest chapter in this tradition is Iowa City’s 2008 designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.

How could a small city in the center of the American heartland have such a wide-ranging impact on creative writing? The answer is that Iowa City, for its size, may be the most literary city on earth. It has a unique set of influential literary institutions that explore new ways to teach and support writers. At the same time, it has long been, quite simply, a place for writers: a haven, a destination, a proving ground, and a nursery.

Together, these synthesizing aspects –- the writers and the institutions that have grown from them and for them –- have created a history and an identity in which its citizens take enormous pride, prizing a role in celebrating and honoring writers and good writing. The UI continues to invest substantially in an array of writing and literary programs.

By designating Iowa City as a City of Literature, UNESCO has recognized Iowa City’s deeply elaborated cultural assets and its strong creative and economic foundations.

Learn about the UNESCO designation of Iowa City as a City of Literature through an application spearheaded by the UI Writing University Taskforce at: Subsequent UI news may be accessed at,,, and

The academic departments that collaborated in the UNESCO City of Literature Mobile Application Development Team are units of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the UI Graduate College.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: Exhibitions are searchable at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Winston Barclay, University News Services, 319-430-1013,, Jeanette Pilak, UNESCO City of Literature,