Design an App for Bellocq’s Ophelia

In the coming week we’ll explore Dave Morris’s adaptation of Frankenstein for iOS devices. In reading this “frankensteined” creation (or “creature,” if you prefer), we’ll consider how Morris has changed Shelley’s narrative, how the sounds and visuals affect our reading, and how the touch interactions of the app have (or have not) been thoughtfully created.

Then drawing inspiration from Morris (in a They Say, I Say manner, perhaps), your final group project is to storyboard an interactive application for Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia. Please note that you need not “build” an interactive application. Rather by “storyboard,” I mean explain how the application would work—providing sketches, diagrams, or other examples of how your app would function. For consistency’s sake, you should think about designing the app for the iPad.

Storyboards are not simply verbal explanations; instead, they use rough visuals to give a sense of functionality. As such, you should think about creating your storyboards in a tool like PowerPoint or Prezi. These need not be elaborate creations, but you do want to provide as complete a sense of your app as possible.

You should consider the following (and more!) when storyboarding your app:

  • Poetry: How will you present the poems? Do they appear in the same order as Trethewey’s book? Do you rewrite them in any way?
  • Images: Will you include them? Which ones? You might need to find copies online or scan them from the books on reserve in the library.
  • Music: Do you have it? What music? When does it trigger? Did you know there’s an opera about these poems written by Steve Everett, an Emory composer? (Trailer and whole opera.)
  • Navigation: How do you get around inside the app? Is there a Table of Contents? Do you present the poetry in the same order as Trethewey?
  • Gestures: Beyond navigation, what sort of multi-touch gestures might you use? What might it mean to use a touch interface in an app about sex work? Or on/around/over pictures of sex workers?
  • Themes of Trethewey’s work: How can an interactive experience highlight some of the different themes we identified in her poems?


Your group will present your app to the class during our final, December 18 from 4:00-7:30 pm. Your presentation will be a minimum of 10 minutes and each group member must be involved in the presentation of the app. In the presentation your group will walk us through the use of the app and talk about why you made your particular design decisions. You should be prepared to answer questions from the class or myself. (We won’t be out to trick you.)

Reflection Paper

Furthermore, each of you will individually prepare a one- to two-page paper in which you reflect on this assignment. Some questions you might consider in your reflections are:

  • Did completing this mapping assignment change how I understand Bellocq’s Ophelia? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • What did I learn by completing this assignment that I could not have learned simply through reading the poems?
  • What did I learn about the literature and/or technology in this experience?
  • What was my experience of working in a group on this assignment?
  • What would I change about this assignment to make it more relevant, informative, enjoyable, challenging, or interesting?

These reflection papers are due by the end of the final exam period.

What You Turn In

In addition to your reflection paper, your group should send me a digital copy of whatever form your storyboard takes. That’s also due by the end of the final exam period. 


I will focus on three discreet things while grading:

  • Group presentation – Did everyone present? Was your discussion of the choices you made in the design articulate?
  • Storyboards – Is your design easy to understand? Is it thoughtful? How ambitious is your app and its design? Does it add something new to the experience of Trethewey’s poetry?
  • Reflection paper – Were you thoughtful in your reflection on the assignment?

It is worth saying that while I’ve listed three things here, the group presentation and storyboards account for 90% of the grade.

Final Words

Importantly, this assignment is intended to be creative. I hope you have fun while working on it, as you think about literature and technology in a different way than we have throughout the rest of the class.