Shakespeare's The Tempest
Visconsi works on Shakespeare and seventeenth century literature along with contemporary First Amendment doctrine, and it was while studying the ways that digital mediation has transformed freedom of speech that he became interested in the iPad as a platform for scholarly research and teaching. Shakespeare was a natural starting place to develop an application for the iPad, since general readers, students, and scholars throughout the world recognize the value and interest of his works.
Initial conversation began in April between Visconsi, CRC Director Jarek Nabrzyski, and Robert Bernhard, Vice President of Research. In July, programming began in earnest. Visconsi had frequent meetings with the Frameworks team, which includes team manager Markus Krusche along with Research Programmers Cheng Liu, Samuel Njoroge, and Alexander Vyushkov. Associate Director Chris Sweet and Computational Scientist Charles Vardeman II were supervising contributors to the project, and the team was completed by Visualization Specialist Kristina Davis. The user interface is a crucial aspect of the app, Visconsi reports; “if the app isn’t easy to use and pleasing to the eye, readers will be turned off. Kristina did a phenomenal job implementing the design.” Krusche and his team worked with Visconsi to realize the application, developing generative tools that use the iPad‘s distinctive features to engage readers at all levels from beginning student to leading scholar.
Included in the app is a scholarly-grade edition of the playtext complete with glossary notes, full search and annotation features, a recorded performance of the play provided by Actors From the London Stage, short “lecture notes” or commentaries provided by leading scholars from Notre Dame and elsewhere, social media tools which allow marginal note-sharing via direct posting to Facebook or other such platforms, a live note-taking pane, curated research links to video archives, and a “mashable” or custom-text creation tool called iPath. This feature allows readers to create their own custom text, which can be a handful of passages for study or contemplation, a part or role for performance, or a custom script. In a future version of the app, readers will be able to share iPaths with others, and load others’ iPaths in to their app. Performers will benefit from pre-loaded roles that can include cue lines to help in preparation.