Nestled in a town world-renowned for its impact on American literature, English at Iowa is the soul of the Writing University. 

We respect tradition—and challenge it. We study the literature of the past—and create the essential works of the future. We reflect and express the truths—and lay bare the lies—of our diverse cultural heritages. We explore age-old questions of the human condition in a world facing brand-new environmental and societal challenges. We use emerging digital tools to understand and imagine the power of books and the written word. We are English at Iowa.

Graduates of our BA, MA, MFA, and PhD programs have made meaningful contributions in the fields of education, the arts, business, the nonprofit sector, and government—shaping the world in which they live with the understanding, compassion, and communication skills they gained as English majors.

Our gifted and dedicated faculty possess a diverse range of interests and specializations, and the Department of English has developed a curriculum that facilitates a comprehensive exploration of people, places, and topics from all eras and cultures, linking to numerous other disciplines. Given such a selection of engaging study options, students in our department are inspired to become lifelong learners who continue to gain—and share—knowledge long after their college studies have ended.

The programs for undergraduate English and Creative Writing, as well as the graduate program in English Literature, are all located in the English-Philosophy Building on the banks of the Iowa River.  In 2023, the Nonfiction program is moving to its new home on North Clinton Street.

Why Iowa?

For aspiring writers and teachers of writing, Iowa is the place to be.

It's simple: great readers make great writers. English at Iowa is uniquely committed to blending the exploration of literature, the study of the book as a cultural form, and the creation of new works of writing. That's one major reason that UNESCO chose Iowa City as the first City of Literature in the United States. 

The English at Iowa Experience

In all of our programs, you'll be taught and mentored by nationally respected professors, including award-winning writers who publish work in bestselling books and major magazines. You'll have opportunities to edit and publish in journals, volunteer, and attend readings and talks by some of the best writers and literary scholars today. Most importantly, you'll be respected for the unique perspective you bring to our community. We welcome all fellow travelers—from all backgrounds—on this lifelong journey of reading and writing.

History of the Department

Since 1861, the Department of English has promoted a rich tradition of reading, writing, and critical thinking. Over the past century, English faculty and alumni include distinguished creative writers, as well as prominent literary critics and scholars who have helped found movements such as New Criticism, feminist literary studies, postcolonial theory, African American literary and cultural studies, and poststructuralist theory.

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UNESCO City of Literature in the U.S.

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Public University for "Writing in the Disciplines"