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James Joyce - There's an App for That

bc students launch mobile guide to james joyce's dublin


CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (June 15, 2012)—James Joyce once said his novel Ulysses was meant to provide a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city suddenly disappeared, it could be reconstructed through the book. This month, a group of idealistic Boston College undergraduates may prove him right as they present an intricate, multimedia virtual tour of Joyce's Dublin.

And yes, there's an app for that.

JoyceWays app

Called JoyceWays, the project launched at Dublin's James Joyce Centre on June 14. Today, the app became available on iTunes, just in time for Bloomsday—the annual Joycean celebration named for Ulysses' protagonist Leopold Bloom that commemorates the events of the book, which occur on June 16, 1904.

For several years, students who have traversed the winding words of Ulysses and Dubliners with Ireland native and BC Joyce scholar Joe Nugent have been building a detailed virtual tour of the works and their early 20th century settings, with the help of BC's Office of Instructional Design and eTeaching Services. When copyright on Joyce’s works in the European Union expired at the close of 2011, it cleared the path for the students to move forward with their plan of making Joyce's Dublin accessible to the masses.

Using digital mapping and images, archival photographic research at Ireland's National Archives, and their own camera work, the students have produced an interactive guide to the topography and texture of the city that includes more than 100 locations, and is enhanced by a catalogue of Joycean details that will make it possible for a user in 21st century Dublin to experience the city of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus.

JoyceWays includes excerpts from the novels glossed with expert criticism, quirky facts, and contemporary images, video and audio—including narration by Irish Senator David Norris and best-selling author, broadcaster and BBC host Frank Delaney, who since 2010 has provided widely popular weekly podcasts on Joyce.

While many BC students have contributed to the project over the years, the core group currently bringing the app to the public includes Logan Macomber and Eileen Kennedy, who graduated from BC in May, Louie Fantini '14, and Robert Scobie, a student visiting BC from the University of Edinburgh, said Nugent.

The tour is not just for Joyceans, the students stress. "We want everyone to have a taste of the brilliance that is Joyce," they note on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform for creative projects that to date has brought 400 backers and nearly $16 thousand in pledges to the project. JoyceWays also has received support from BC's undergraduate research and academic innovation grants programs.

By asking his students to work with images, audio and texts from a variety of secondary sources, Nugent says he is immersing his students not in rote learning, but in the production of knowledge, "the heart of scholarly enterprise."

For more information about JoyceWays, visit joyceways.com or like JoyceWays on Facebook

--Patti Delaney is deputy director of the Office of News & Public Affairs; delaneyp@bc.edu