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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 9, 2004

UI Strikes Partnership With Electronic Literature Organization

Home to the storied Writers' Workshop, the University of Iowa is already considered to be the best writing university in the country. But a new partnership with the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) may take that fame into an entirely new dimension -- the dimension of bits, bandwidth and blogs.

The Graduate College, the English Department, and the International Writing Program are partnering with the ELO, making the UI the first of many anticipated "nodes" in an expanding network of institutions and universities committed to promoting and facilitating the writing, publishing and reading of electronic literature.

Thom Swiss, a professor in the English Department with a shared appointment in the Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiry (POROI), editor of the Iowa Review Web and recently elected president of the ELO, said the arrangement with the ELO will be a visible, international signal that Iowa, as the premiere writing university, is also a leader in the digital age.

"The UI will be seen as fully engaged with the possibilities the Internet offers for mediating and advancing cross-disciplinary collaborative thinking, cross-genre writing, the relationship between the arts and the humanities, and the archiving of digital work related to these practices and intersections," Swiss said.

The ELO supports new forms of literature that use the capabilities of emerging technologies to advance the state of the art for the benefit of present and future generations of readers. Since its formation, the ELO has taken great strides in creating programs designed to assist writers and publishers in bringing their literary works to a wider, global readership and also to provide them with the infrastructure necessary to reach one another.

In fall 2001 the organization moved its headquarters to the University of California, Los Angeles under the advocacy of Professor N. Katherine Hayles (English and Design (Media Arts).

Swiss said that UI Graduate College Dean John Keller and English professor and DEO Brooks Landon took the lead in forming the partnership, providing institutional, intellectual and financial backing.

"The Graduate College is proud to be able to support the outstanding and unique interdisciplinary efforts of the writing programs at Iowa," Keller said. "Iowa is home to a world renowned collection of fiction and non-fiction scholars, as well as individuals who are skilled in the art of critical rhetorical studies. The partnership with ELO provides an opportunity for the expansion of this work from the traditional print forms of interchange, but also to emerging technologies, including the web and various on-line journal opportunities."

Marjorie C. Luesebrink, past president of ELO's board of directors, described the ELO-UI partnership as part of a "networking" initiative with key universities that will expand the opportunities in electronic literature and explore the interfaces with new media arts. She said the collaboration "significantly expands the promise of collaboration between writers, scholars and teachers of traditional texts and digital works.

"Thom Swiss, already an innovator at UI, is particularly well suited to leading initiatives that link writing practices across historic and current technologies," she added.

She said the UI, too, is in a unique position to explore literature in the digital realm. "The UI has led the field in publishing both established and new authors in The Iowa Review, The Iowa Review Web and its journal for international writing, 91st Meridian," she said. "The association of the UI programs with the Electronic Literature Organization will allow writers and scholars to more fruitfully integrate their work with the world of digital image, text and sound."

More information about the ELO may be found online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,