In 1922, Iowa became the first university in the United States to accept creative projects (e.g., collections of poems, musical compositions, paintings) as theses for advanced degrees. Iowa thus established a standard for the Master of Fine Arts degree and secured a place for writers and artists in the academy. The University of Iowa’s writing community flourished in the wake of this commitment to the arts; the creative writing curriculum expanded and diversified in the 1920s, and writers came from all over the country to enroll in courses in playwriting, fiction, and poetry writing.
The Iowa Writers’ Workshop was founded in 1936. It was the first creative writing program in the country, and it became the prototype for more than 300 writing programs, many of which were founded by Workshop alumni. The Workshop remains the most prestigious creative writing program in the country, attracting some of the best writers in the world as both students and faculty members. Since 1939, 40 writers with ties to the UI have been awarded Pulitzer Prizes, and four recent U.S. Poets Laureate have been either students or faculty at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Over the years, The University of Iowa has established additional graduate programs in creative writing, including programs in playwriting, nonfiction, translation, and Spanish creative writing.
While graduate students and fellows from the programs mentioned above certainly add to the beating heart of the University’s creative culture, these days an impressive crop of undergraduate writers are making their mark on campus, having chosen to attend The University of Iowa strictly to study the written word.
With the incredibly popular Undergraduate Creative Writing Track already providing students the opportunity to study with some of the best poets, fiction writers, and essayists around, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recently added another undergraduate option that is quickly generating a lot of interest.
The Frank N. Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing was designed by the College as a way for students (regardless or major or academic background) to achieve the benefits of a strong writing skillset. With the help of a generous donation from Marilyn Y. Magid and her family in honor of Marilyn's late husband Frank, the Magid Center houses the new Undergraduate Writing Certificate program and also provides the opportunity for students in the Iowa Writers LLC (a first-year student living-learning community housed in Currier Hall) to meet established authors and create, design, and edit their own—brand new—literary magazine, Ink.