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Josh Stephens in the 24-hour reading marathon

LCU's Annual Writing Carnival Turns Ten

The LCU Writing Carnival celebrated its 10th anniversary this past week and featured Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

The event is a multi-department event that highlights the power of words and writing, demonstrating that these can also be enjoyable endeavors that have a lasting impact. “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. The two brought the idea back to Lubbock, and over the past ten years, have made it a staple in LCU’s annual calendar.

The festivities kicked off on Sunday night with a screening of the 2005 film Pride & Prejudice, during which the 100 attending students were offered tea, coffee, and assorted scones and other pastries to help set the mood for the evening. A photo booth was also available, and students were able to dress up in period-appropriate costumes for photographs.

The next day, Dr. Kenneth Hawley spoke in chapel.  At the conclusion of chapel, Dr. Jesse Long kicked off the 24-hour reading marathon of the book on the steps of the McDonald Moody Auditorium.

“Dr. Hawley's role in this event can't be emphasized enough,” shared Anderson. “He ‘sells’ the story to our audience each year in the two chapels, and for a novel that does not have the same sort of immediate recognition as some of the others we have selected, our students came out in record numbers to show that good writing—good books—are for everyone.”

Indeed, the turnout for this year’s event was among the highest that the coordinators had seen through the previous ten years. “Our midnight reading also boasted our largest crowd,” explained Anderson. “My count was 120 students, and once again, several stayed throughout the night in hammocks or sleeping bags.” The reading marathon, which was broadcast live over ChapRadio, allowed students, faculty, and staff members to take turns reading in 30-minute blocks from the end of chapel on Monday through the end of chapel following day. 

Students participating in the Caption ContestAt the close of Dr. Hawley’s second chapel talk on Tuesday, the concluding event of the Writing Carnival began. Students, faculty, staff, and other members of the community shared in delicious carnival-style food, participated in Pride and Prejudice-themed writing games and contests, and enjoyed fellowship across the mall area of LCU’s campus. Through partnerships with Student Affairs, LCU Marketing and Communications office, the Dining Services team, and many others, Anderson says the event showcased the value of collegiality and teamwork.

“So many hours go into planning and preparing for this event, and every minute spent is on behalf of our students. When students leave LCU, I think they will remember the carnival as a time of fun and community and rest—an hour or two to eat good food and to relax and not to have to be anywhere in particular.” But even beyond the enhanced sense of community the carnival brings each year, it is still—at its heart—about the love of writing.

“While writing isn’t easy, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. The carnival eases students into writing and draws on their abilities and communication skills... Words have such power,” Anderson emphasized. “They aren’t just for grades. They actually can convey beautiful things, sorrowful things, wonderful things, and clever things.”

Anderson’s final word embodies the experience that the carnival brings for the many who have come together each year for the past decade to help celebrate literature and community at LCU: “It truly is a labor of love.”