Lubbock Christian University's annual Writing Carnival, a cherished tradition at LCU since it was conceived by Associate Professor of English Jana Anderson in the fall of 2010, is one of the first major events of each academic year. This collaborative experience continues to thrive as a dynamic celebration of community, creativity, and student engagement. Each carnival features a theme based on a classic book and its film adaptation, including such well-known works as The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, or this year’s The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Each September, the Writing Carnival draws our campus into a multi-day extravaganza that unites students, faculty, and staff.

AltProfessor Jana Anderson, left, was one of the founders of the Writing Carnival, a staple event each fall.The collaborative effort involves key contributors such as the Department of Humanities, the University Writing Center, our Student and Residential Life teams, the Provost’s Office, Marketing Communications, Dining Services, Facilities, and Chap Radio—a collective effort that creates a vibrant academic and creative atmosphere. Anderson shares invaluable insights gained over the years, underscoring the event's success through careful planning, cross-departmental collaboration, and unwavering enthusiasm.

“Events with an academic focus allow us to model the kind of creativity and intellectual curiosity that we want to foster in all our academic disciplines.”

Reflecting on the event's history, Jana traces its origins to a presentation she attended at the College English Association (CEA) national academic conference. Inspired by that report on one college’s successful writing event, she envisioned a larger-scale experience, resulting in the inception of Lubbock Christian University's Writing Carnival. The initiative, now in its 14th year, includes not only the carnival games and food, but also two chapel presentations by Professor of English Dr. Kenneth Hawley, a 24-Hour Reading Marathon, a movie screening, costume contests, and various special activities.

Anderson notes, “We've hosted a Quidditch tournament, incorporated giant inflatable games, offered escape room quests, had musical performances, a magician, a mariachi band, and so many fun surprises for our students over the years.”

The Writing Carnival has evolved beyond celebration, incorporating a service project component tied to the selected book series. Given this year’s Princess Bride theme, the carnival’s reach extended to a service opportunity promoted throughout September as "As You Wish," a collection of books and stuffed animal donations benefiting the Children's Advocacy Center of the South Plains.

altEach year, President Scott McDowell takes the midnight shift of the 24-Hour Reading Marathon—a student favorite.Such an opportunity for service resonates with the themes emphasized in Dr. Hawley’s chapel presentations, as Goldman’s story is framed (especially in the film version) as an opportunity for a child to be transformed by the power of a story told by a loving grandfather. It is a classic tale of adventure and true love, after all, and as The Princess Bride reminds us, true love has the power to raise the mostly dead. Dr. Hawley draws a connection between such fairy tale romances and the Greatest Story Ever Told.

“When Westley says, ‘This is True Love. You think this happens every day?’”, he means it isn’t common or ordinary. It is extraordinary, but it is not unique to storybooks. True love makes life worth living, and it is, in fact, seen every day—whenever we serve and give and sacrifice for the good of others, reflecting the True Love of God demonstrated to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.”

The Writing Carnival's impact also extends to scholarly work, as Jana and former Dean, Dr. Susan Blassingame, have presented on LCU’s experience at conferences such as Conference of College Teachers of English (CCTE), the Christian Scholars Conference, and SACSCOC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges). Their recognition for the "best presentation" at CCTE resulted in a published paper in CCTE Studies.

Above all, though, the Writing Carnival is a labor of love for students, and it is often cited as a favorite college experience by graduating seniors. Anderson's dedication, coupled with collaborative efforts across departments, has transformed the Writing Carnival into a beloved tradition, embodying the spirit of community, creativity, and academic engagement at Lubbock Christian University.