The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Oct. 29, 1999

UI online student magazine grows from honors project to undergraduate course

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa online student literary magazine SMACK! found a home on the Internet last spring, and it will find a second home in the classroom next semester.

SMACK! ( began as an English honors project for UI junior Stephen Balsley and UI senior Megan Levad in the spring of 1999 when they approached faculty with the idea of an online literary publication. It is now in its fourth issue.

"We created the magazine for credit last spring semester. Now we just do it as a hobby, continuing the metamorphosis of the creation," Balsley said.

The hobby will soon turn into a teaching responsibility when Balsley and Levad assist Mary Hussmann, co-editor of "The Iowa Review" and director of the UI Undergraduate Writing Program, in teaching SMACK! as an English honors course during the spring 2000 semester.

Students will get hands-on experience with literary work and web-based journals in the class, Hussmann said. "One of the course components will be the actual production of SMACK!, which will encompass everything from soliciting writing and artwork to getting it on the web," she said. Students also will look at both web-based and print literary publications to learn about their contributions to literary culture.

SMACK! is the first online magazine for undergraduates sponsored by the UI department of English. An outlet for undergraduate work from the UI and other universities, SMACK! showcases academic and creative features, photo essays, poetry, fiction and nonfiction. The editors are interested in promoting many different varieties of work, Balsley said.

"SMACK! is progressive and fresh. It’s a map of the direction that a new generation of writers will take to approaching the literary world," he said. The students entitled the magazine SMACK! because of the various meanings it holds in society, ranging from a kiss to heroin to a physical blow, Balsley added.

"SMACK! is an excellent on-line literary magazine featuring student writing of the highest quality," said Mary Ann Rasmussen, the magazine’s faculty advisor and director of the English Honors Program. "It’s creative, intellectually engaging and a pleasure to look at and to read."

"This is not a small time journal," Balsley said. "And by offering SMACK! as a course, our staff will grow. This will enable us to produce bigger and more intense magazines with each new issue."

Submissions are accepted anytime throughout the semester, and should be emailed to, or delivered to the SMACK! mailbox in room 308 of the English-Philosophy Building on the UI campus. Contact Stephen Balsley, (319) 338-0968, for further submission information and Mary Hussmann, (319) 335-0641, for further course information.