Living Literature

Popular Lit LLC Icon

Iowa City is North America’s only UNESCO City of Literature! Experience literature come to life with other students and faculty who love reading and writing. You will learn about the literary landmarks that have made Iowa City famous, become part of a thriving culture, and discover the career possibilities open to people who are passionate about books.

Programming for Living Literature

Programming may vary from year to year. Past programs in this community have included:

  • Haunted Bookshop Pajama Night: Visit an iconic Iowa City Bookstore, wear your PJs, and learn about the literature culture in Iowa City
  • Blind Date Book Party: Bring a great book you don’t need anymore, wrap it up, and swap it with people at the event for a blind date with a new book!
  • Iowa City Book Festival: Volunteer at the annual Iowa City Book Festival with Floor Mates
  • Prairie Lights Night: One of the most famous bookstores in the world, Prairie Lights is an Iowa City staple. Visit one of their book gurus and let them help you find that perfect book
  • PopLit Book Club: Residents can read the same book and discuss as a floor


ENGL:1100:0001 - City of Literature: Learn the literary history of Iowa City from the founding of the Writers’ Workshop to our designation as a UNESCO City of Literature in this new lecture course. We will read poems, short stories, and essays by faculty and graduates of the Workshop and Nonfiction Writing Program alongside reminiscences by writers of their time in Iowa City. Lectures will cover such topics as the short story and the lyric poem as pedagogical models, the problem of whether writing can be taught, the role of literary prizes, the significance of local businesses such as Prairie Lights and the Foxhead tavern, the rise of creative nonfiction, and the idea of a Writing University. Assignments will be designed to engage students with the university and the city, including archival research in Special Collections, attendance at local readings, walking tours, interviews with local writers, and contributions to the City of Literature website.  

Who Lives Here

This community is open to all students.

For More Information

Please contact Residence Education at 319-335-3700 or