The Annual Writing Carnival came full circle this year from Sept. 14 - 16, as it celebrated The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, the same series to be featured when the event debuted six year ago. In years since, the event has featured books such as The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and more.
Six years ago, Jana Anderson, English professor and mastermind behind the yearly carnival, and Ronna Privett, English department head, were inspired to try a writing carnival after seeing a similar idea put into practice at another university. Following the LCU carnival debut, Anderson and Privett presented at Conference of College Teachers of English (CCTE) on the topic What Do The Chronicles of Narnia and a Magician Have in Common?: A First-Year Writing Carnival Experience. Their presentation was later published in the CCTE quarterly journal.
The carnival has become a tradition every September, engaging students and volunteers from all corners of campus. Anderson hopes that the event gives people a chance to have fun with words instead of being intimidated by them, as they might when using them for only work, essays, and tests.
“Words have such power,” Anderson explained. “They aren’t just for grades. They actually can convey beautiful things, sorrowful things, wonderful things, and clever things.”
The Writing Carnival is an inter-disciplinary event, drawing from teamwork between the University Writing Center, Dining Services, Student Affairs, MarCom, Facilities, Chap Radio, the Office of the Provost, local alumni, volunteer staff and students, and more. This year, LCU also welcomed the Lubbock High School Mariachi Band on campus to perform throughout the carnival.
Each year, the Writing Carnival incorporates different experiences, although some events have become tradition. Monday nights kick off the event by showing a movie adaptation of the featured book of the year – this year was The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (2005). From 11:30 a.m. Tuesday to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday is the 24 hour reading marathon of the focus series, which is hosted in the mall and featured on Chap Radio. This year, readers made it through six of the Narnia books before breaking the marathon after chapel for carnival food and writing games.
Student attendance was at a high this year, which Anderson attributes in part to increased outdoor seating and the Fountains on the Mall. Regardless of their major, the carnival gives students the chance to show their wit or wisdom by composing haikus, limericks, image captions, six-word-stories, and more. Winners are chosen at each event and announced in chapel the following week.
As the event has grown, more and more people chime in with book suggestions for future years.
“What we’re looking for in a book is a redemptive story. There are some stories that are great, but that don’t have the redemptive model that we see in Christ. That’s the message we want to share with students. That’s what makes these stories beautiful,” said Anderson.
The Writing Carnival will be back for its 7th incarnation next September.