Ellen MacKay’s love of Shakespeare was born when she was just 9 years old, after seeing her first Shakespeare production, Twelfth Night, at Stratford, England. Today, the associate professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington is is making it possible to interact with Shakespeare in a whole new way. She is part of an academic collaboration creating iPad applications for some of the Bard’s most well-known plays.
Produced by Luminary Digital Media software company, based in South Bend, Ind., the Tempest for iPad publication features images, activities, video, and scholarly content that complement the text. Each text is accompanied by expert commentaries and features audio performance of the play by the internationally known Actors From the London Stage company. The app also links directly to illustrations, podcasts, teaching materials, and videos from the Folger Shakespeare Library, the world’s premier destination for Shakespeare research.
MacKay contributed expert commentary to”The Tempest,” Luminary’s debut effort, and she is directing creation of the app for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, expected to be released during the 2012-13 academic year.
MacKay recently finished up a fellowship at IDAH, the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities at IU Bloomington, which “made me think much more broadly and deeply about the digital world,” she says.
“The app moves the process of reading a book away from an information-extraction model and turns it into an activity that brings an array of ideas and texts into a larger conversation,” MacKay says. “It keeps the text in constant but always changing contact with other works, other readers and other forms of cultural information. It provides teachers a handy way to show students that they’re curators of their own context, and that the work is always open to new readings, new histories and new milieus.
“Shakespeare has such a strong history of criticism behind him, and there are so many points of view,” MacKay continues. “There’s just a lot of richness to the field, and that’s why I continue to find it so attractive. For me, the iPad app couldn’t be more a perfect platform to explore the many dimensions of Shakespeare scholarship and to convey them to a wider audience.”
For more information about the “Tempest” application, visit luminarydigitalmedia.com. It is available for download on iTunes.