The 7th Annual Writing Carnival at LCU celebrated the creativity of writing through the lens of J.R.R. Tolkien’s high fantasy The Lord of the Rings. This is the second time Tolkien’s series has been featured as the focal point of the carnival, with others including The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and more.
“The Writing Carnival was created to improve student connection and build community in a 3-day event that unites students, faculty, and staff and that we believe increases student engagement and student learning,” explained Jana Anderson, English professor and coordinator for the Writing Carnival.
Inspiration for the carnival hit when Anderson and Dr. Ronna Privett attended a CEA conference where a group of professors from Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio presented about a similar one-day event.
With the addition of a 24-hour reading marathon, movie night, costume contest, LCU created a unique Writing Carnival in the fall of 2010.
The event kicked off with a showing of “The Return of the King” on Sunday night, then continued over the first part of the week. Dr. Kenneth Hawley addressed key issues in the novels Monday and Tuesday in chapel, including the nature of evil and fairy tale elements presented in the series.
The 24-hour reading marathon was streamed on Chap Radio. Dr. Jesse Long began the marathon after chapel on Monday, picking up mid-way through The Two Towers, where the marathon ended five years ago when the series was first featured. President Perrin read to a large audience of students at his traditional midnight time slot.
The marathon concluded after chapel on Tuesday, when dean of students Josh Stephens, dressed as Legolas, read the last pages of The Return of the King, and the carnival officially began.
Booths at the carnival included a span of activities that showcased student creativity and the fun of writing: writing stations featuring haikus and six-word stories, games and activities such as sidewalk chalk and trivia, and a photo booth with costume options. Dining services provided a carnival-style menu with street tacos, roasted corn, and sausage on a stick.
“We have learned a number of things over the years: 1) nothing is ever as easy as it looks, but with planning and enthusiasm, just about anything is possible; 2) it takes a village; 3) events with an academic focus are not only marketable, but allow us to model the kind of creativity and intellectual curiosity that we want to foster in all our academic disciplines.”
Anderson credits a number of departments and groups with making the event an annual success: the University Writing Center, Student Affairs, the Office of the Provost, MarCom, Dining Services, and the chapel planning team. She also mentions the contributions of Dr. Hawley, colleagues in other departments, and the students who attend.
Next year, the Writing Carnival will feature the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.