Robin Hemley is Director of the Polk School of Communications, Co-Director of the MFA in Writing and Publishing, Parsons Family Chair in Creative Writing, and University Professor.  Dr. Hemley has published fifteen books of fiction and nonfiction on a variety of subjects, most recently the forthcoming novel Oblivion, An After-Autobiography (Gold Wake, March, 2022), the writing guide, The Art and Craft of Asian Stories: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology  (Bloomsbury, October 2021) co-authored with Xu Xi  and a collection of travel essays, Borderline Citizen: Dispatches from the Outskirts of Nationhood..  His widely-used writing text, Turning Life into Fiction (Graywolf Press) has sold over a hundred thousand copies and has been in print for 25 years. 

Dr. Hemley has won many awards for his fiction and nonfiction, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, three Pushcart Prizes in both fiction and nonfiction, numerous citations in the Best American Essays, The Nelson Algren Award for Fiction, The Independent Press Book Award for Nonfiction, an American Library Association Editor’s Choice Award, and artist residencies at the Bellagio Center at Lake Como, the Bogliasco Foundation, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, The Hermitage, The MacDowell Colony, and the Ragdale Foundation.

Prior to joining LIU, he was the inaugural director of the Writers’ Center at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, and prior to that, the Director of the Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa.  He has held Endowed Chairs at The College of the Holy Cross, St. Lawrence University, and at LIU, and he is the founder of the leading international Nonfiction Conference, NonfictionNOW.  He is the co-founder, along with Xu Xi, of the manuscript editing service and international writing retreat organization, Authors at Large.  He is one of the first promoters of the speculative essay and with Leila Philip, co-founder of the literary journal, Speculative Nonfiction.  He also is Founding Editor and Publisher of the journal, Defunct  and was editor of The Bellingham Review  for five years.

His work has been published and translated widely and has appeared in such journals as Creative Nonfiction, Conjunctions, Guernica,, The Sun, The Iowa Review, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Chicago Tribune, and his short stories have been featured several times on NPR’s “Selected Shorts” and his book-length works span subjects as diverse as an investigation into a purported anthropological hoax in the Philippines, Invented Eden  (FSG, Nebraska) to a memoir about his brilliant and troubled older sister, Nola: A Memoir of Faith, Art snd Madness, as well as four short story collections, the memoir, Do-Over!,and three books on writing craft, including A Field Guide for Immersion Writing,

He has been tenured at six universities and has given workshops on various innovative forms of writing around the world.

Dr. Hemley received his B.A. in Comparative Literature from Indiana University, his MFA from he Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his PhD from The University of New South Wales.  He is an Emeritus Professor of the Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa.

His writing is represented by Malaga Baldi.

Courses Taught

  • History of Genre(s)
  • Nonfiction Workshop
  • Fiction Workshop
  • Crossing Genres Workshop
  • Polk Professional Series
  • Revision Workshop
  • Overseas Writing Workshop
  • MFA Thesis & Faculty Advising