IU Professor Helps Give Shakespeare A 21st Century Makeover

An Indiana University professor is involved in a project aimed at making the works of William Shakespeare more accessible.

IU English professor, Ellen MacKay, is a scholarly contributor to a new Shakespeare app available for the iPad. It provides an electronic version of The Tempest.

The app allows readers to view the text in a pretty conventional way, but they have the option to view commentary from scholars on various passages, to listen to audio versions of the play from actors and to use educational resources and discussion forums to better understand the content.

“I think the way we envision the app is that it should be as friendly to a completely untrained reader as it is useful to either a professor or a teacher in the classroom,” MacKay says. “So the model is for really 9th grade through 12th grade students to be able to use it and get something out of it but also for students at a much higher level; at the undergraduate level, at the graduate level to find value in it also.”

Elliott Visconsi from Notre Dame created the app. MacKay was just one of the many academics who provided scholarly comments on the material.

The creators are already working to add more Shakespeare works. MacKay is directing the content of the play A Midsummer Nights Dream in the next version, but the foundations of the app will remain the same.

“We designed it with the understanding that Shakespeare is not just a text, but a blueprint for performance and that performance often enhances peoples understanding of what the plays represent. And that there’s all of this extra material that folds really well into an app right? That can be presented simultaneously.”

The Tempest app launched in April. Future versions that are being produced will be available during the upcoming school year.

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