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Harry Potter Writing Carnival: Dr. Kenneth Hawley and Kaua Awbrey

Thursday, Sep 15th, 2022
Author : Keegan Stewart
Podcast image for Harry Potter Writing Carnival: Dr. Kenneth Hawley and Kaua Awbrey

Dr. Kenneth Hawley and Senior Kaua Aubrey join the podcast to discuss LCU’s 2022 Writing Carnival—including its theme: Harry Potter!

Episode length 21:56 minutes
00:00 21:56


Beta Transcript

Keegan Stewart: Hello and welcome. This is the LCU podcast, a podcast that will bring stories, insights and people from Lubbock Christian University. I'm your host, Keegan Stewart, and I'm happy to be with you for another episode. On today's episode, I have a conversation with Dr. Kenneth Hawley and senior Kaua Awbrey. Dr. Hawley is a professor of English, as well as the director of LCU's Center for Boethius Studies.
Kaua is a senior math major. Our conversation today surrounds the upcoming LCU Writing Carnival, as well as this year's theme, Harry Potter. Dr. Hawley is greatly involved with the thematic process of the Carnival and Kaua. Share some experiences from the past, as well as what she's looking forward to for this year's carnival. I hope you enjoyed today's conversation with Dr. Kenneth Hawley and Kaua Awbrey.
All right, Kaua Awbrey, Dr. Kenneth Hawley, thank you all for being here today.
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: Thank you.
Keegan Stewart: Dr. Hawley. For those who are a part of the LCU community, they hear the LCU Writing Carnival and they have a lot of things that come to mind there. They have excitement. They know what to expect in some ways. For those who have no idea what this is. How would you describe the Writing carnival?
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: Great. Thanks for asking. So the writing carnival began about 13 years ago, especially at the at the instigation of Jana Anderson. So she went to a conference about how to engage students on campus in ways that can go across the campus community and do so in a way that has academic purpose. And so she had heard about an idea of some sort of reading or writing carnival and came back and began brainstorming with the Department of Humanities.
And we put it together originally as something that reflected on the stories of C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. And the next year, we picked The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. And then we did Harry Potter. And then it was The Princess Bride. And in the first five year cycle, we did Star Wars. And then on our second five year cycle, we did one, two, three and four the same.
And then the fifth one was Pride and Prejudice. And then this last current five year cycle, we've done Chronicles of Narnia again, Lord of the Rings, and now this year, Harry Potter. And it's based on a major series that we feel like has significance, literary significance, but also moral, potentially even spiritual significance for our students to engage in ideas that matter to them, to the world, to our lives.
And so we picked ones that we we thought were good stories, not just ones that people like, but but they are good and they have goodness in them that that can be drawn and applied directly to to the way we live and the way we share life together. And so the idea was to engage campus community and to do so with dining services and student life and the student body and the Department of Humanities, English faculty in particular.
So it was structured as something that would take place on the campus, in the mall, and it would, over the course of 24 hours, involve the reading aloud of whatever book series we had chosen. And so that would provide opportunities for different ways to engage the students throughout that 24 hour period. And then at the conclusion of that 24 hour period, actually upon the dismissal of chapel, begin the carnival itself, and that would involve again dining services providing lunch for everyone that day, but also games and trivia contest and literary kinds of challenges that would at least get people to think about how writing is not just a chore that you do for a class,
but it's human expression, and it's finding a way to say what is important. Finding a way to. To say what's funny. Finding a way to say what's clever. And those challenges allow students to kind of push their limits in intellectual ways, but also just in fun ways and to have a good time together in in the campus community early in the year that was strategically done as well.
We wanted it to be early in the semester so that students could really connect and feel involved and engaged and in some cases get those students involved, engaged who might not otherwise have a means to do so. Maybe it's not those who are participating in other activities or or sports or other things on campus, but they have a lot to offer, they have a lot of interests and they find common interests.
And through the years you just see lots of friendships that that really took hold and blossom during that time together.
Keegan Stewart: I want to get back to you in just a little bit, some of the theme and how you draw goodness from these from these stories. But I want to ask you, Kaua, you're a senior, so you have seen a few of these writing carnivals now. What was your first impression in your freshman year when you saw this taking place on campus?
Kaua Awbrey: So my freshman year was actually one of the years that we did Pride and Prejudice and what what was unfortunate about my freshman year is that I ended up getting the flu right as the writing carnival started. But it was something that was really interesting to me because coming out of high school and coming into this new college environment, college experience, there were a lot of things that I thought I was going to have to close this chapter on, that I was kind of moving into a more adult space, and I was a math major.
And so a lot of these creative things that I had done throughout my childhood, I thought I was kind of having to put those on the back burner. But to come into LCU and to have an event like that that's based a lot on our shared childhood experiences, I think has created a lot of really good community on campus, and it's nice to kind of connect back with that and be able to go and dress up or go in the middle of the night and listen to the readings.
I especially loved Narnia whenever we had the fake snow and all fall and there were a lot of decorations, it just it kind of takes you out of the series seriousness of being in this, like, very academic setting where you're having to do a lot of studying. It is a lot of work. It's nice to be able to stop and have fun and kind of jump into those like fantasy environments.
With your fellow college students.
Keegan Stewart: So you mentioned people dressing up for this year's theme, Harry Potter. Do you have any plans for any any costumes or anything fun like that?
Kaua Awbrey: Absolutely. I I think I might try to convince my dad to give me his graduation robes and so that I have some Harry Potter robes as well. We went to Great Wolf Lodge when I was a kid. And so I have one of those of the magi quest. Nice. I'm pretty excited. I'm even more excited to see my professors dressing up.
I think Dr. Fisher mentioned something about being Snape, so I feel like now that it's on the podcast he has to.
That's believable. I like that.
Keegan Stewart: Well, and I think we've seen dean of students Josh Stephens try and pull off he who must not be named in the past. I think I recall Kecia attempting a moaning Myrtle and she said Great job with it. I would say.
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: We shouldn't let the name course. We should say Josh Steephens an not afraid to say Josh Stephens.
Keegan Stewart: Don't be afraid to say it. So, yeah, a lot of exciting costumes come in for this year. Writing Carnival that weekend. Dr. Hawley, any costumes in your future?
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: I dress up as a professor each year. Excellent.
Keegan Stewart: Yeah, excellent.
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: But we do have, you know, at the very beginning of school, the very first chapel experience together on campus has been termed Harry Potter Chapel by the students because the faculty dressed up in their academic robes. And so it's likely that some of the fact that we wear in their academic robes, again, for the writing carnival chapels that we have perfect.
Keegan Stewart: This one's not in my known it notes, but it just came to my mind. If you were a professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which subject do you think you would teach?
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: Hmm. Probably either history of magic or mogul studies.
Keegan Stewart: Mogul studies?
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: Yeah, yeah. Something like.
Keegan Stewart: That. I feel like that would be one of the easier ways to go right?
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: Yeah, that's kind of what I was. I wasn't very good at potion making. All right. We go back to high school chemistry, right?
Keegan Stewart: So going back to the theme you mentioned the several different stories that LCU chooses when doing this, thinking about Harry Potter. How how is that spiritual element, that goodness tied into this narrative?
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: Yeah. So, you know, and many people know Harry Potter to have been in some circles controversial because of its content or the idea that that young people would be reading stories about magic. But all the way through the stories, it's very clear what good uses of power are. And I use the word power instead of magic or something like that, because it's often kind of one of the key questions is how will power get used all the way through the narrative, especially to the very end?
Harry and Dumbledore both exhibit A changed life with regard to perspective on power. Dumbledore's own life is is marked by his decision to handle power differently than he did when he was younger. And Harry purposely chooses to renounce power, to surrender, to sacrifice, to accept death. And so in those ways, the larger story arc confirms a positive, good view of how power should be used and handled.
And throughout the stories, so many characters, including our own main characters, dabble in things that they shouldn't and sometimes go too far with them, learn serious lessons from them. We know that Ginny dabbles in a book that has powers that she doesn't understand, and it connects so well to our current culture's concern with. Back when we first started talking about Harry Potter in our earliest iterations of this Carnival chat rooms and social media getting involved with people in a form where you don't have knowledge or power or control, it's very dangerous.
And Ginny's story illustrates that. And remarkably, Harry makes the same mistake. A few books later when he uses this book of spells that has other spells and incantations in it that he doesn't really know the source of. And what is it that Ginny's mother says? Don't trust anything, that you don't know how it's brain works or where it keeps its brain, that there are kind of subtle storylines and parts of the stories that have lessons like that.
But you also have larger fundamental concerns, like the power of friendship and more more fundamentally for the whole storyline, the power of love to defeat evil, a kind of power that Voldemort doesn't understand, doesn't appreciate, doesn't value, knows nothing of. And he sort of illustrates the kind of private view of evil that he is just wasting away into nothingness.
Essentially, every time he loses something of what it means to be human, what it means to be a person in relationship with others, with every murder that he commits, with every Horcrux he creates, he becomes less of a of a of a person, less of a self, and he devolves and disintegrates ultimately because of his inability to to know love at all.
And it's in those moments where when Harry is possessed by him in the fifth book and he essentially drives Voldemort out of him by meditating on love and friendship in and by pitying someone like Voldemort who knows nothing of love and friendship. That's what what Voldemort can't understand and can't live with it can't inhabit the body of one who is filled with such goodness and love.
And so Harry's mother's protective love over him, the way that he is able to resist so many opportunities to choose differently when he's standing before the mirror. Harry said, so many moments in the storyline where Harry, either whether he does so initially or later, eventually learns how to choose rightly what is worth his life and worth doing for the sake of others.
And they're routinely helping each other, sharing knowledge and information. And it's also a story of growth and development and education, where they learn how you will depend upon your closest friends and depend upon knowledge and wisdom of the ages and depend upon the experiences of others in order to engage in the life that you're living and in order to make the choices you need to make in a very dangerous world.
Because a good story doesn't it doesn't leave out evil. It presents evil in all of its truth and shows how evil can be overcome. And that's what this story does.
Keegan Stewart: So many amazing themes that you do a great job of of bringing to light in a fleshing out and for the LCU community listening that is the chapel program on this week so September 19th and 20th come to chapel at 11 in the McDonald Moody Auditorium and you'll hear Dr. Hawley speak further about some of these things that he just mentioned. Kaua, again, the audience that hasn't seen this before, can you help paint a picture to the freshmen students, to the transfer students of what the scene is going to look like as they exit chapel on that Monday and the writing carnival begins?
Kaua Awbrey: I it as you leave chapel after hearing Dr. Hawley's talk you'll come out and usually they've already started the reading that's right in front of the auditorium. And you'll have different tables set up around the mall area for different kinds of activities, sort of closer around lunch. You'll have the cafe come out and they always have fun, fair types of food.
You'll see people I love when the upperclassmen really, really get into the costumes as well. So you'll probably see people in your classes throughout the day that are dressed very differently than they normally are. But something I'd really encourage you to do is to listen to the reading and see how long you can stay out there because it will go 24 hours.
You have people going through the night, but it's a lot of fun to go out there with your friends and to see your professors enjoying this carnival as well. I think it really brings a life to campus that you don't get to see every day.
Keegan Stewart: Anything to add to the scene?
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: Yeah, that's great. The food is fantastic. Many people come just for the food and enjoy everything else as well. But between the the hotdogs, corndogs, churros, street, corn street tacos, Sal and his team really do themselves and Randy. It's just a fantastic day. If it were only food, it would be fantastic. But all these other booths and things that people can engage in, whether it's decorating the sidewalks with chalk or participating in the trivia contest or the caption contest or any of the other engaging challenges that are presented through the different booths.
Sometimes it's just for fun. Have a good time, sit with your friends, brainstorm a good answer, and all those answers are actually compiled. And we kind of have a little bit of contest in a few days after the writing Carnival in one of the chapels, we we kind of announce the winners of some of these little challenges and contests and prizes are given for those who participate.
So that's kind of fun, too. We kind of share some of the the best and funniest answers because many of them do do try to be funny and succeed very well.
Keegan Stewart: Monday night as well. You can come out at midnight and hear President McDowell do his portion of the of the reading and get a piece of pizza, you know, some get some pizza. So the theme being Harry Potter, which Harry Potter book is this? Is this reading going through is just the first book.
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: So I believe the decision's been made to begin about where we left off last time was right in the middle of the fifth book.
Keegan Stewart: Oh, excellent.
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: As you make your way through this series, some of the initial books are a little shorter. The fifth book is quite long. Six This is for long seventh faily is. So we'll see how far we get and maybe all the way to the conclusion of the series will see.
Keegan Stewart: Fantastic.
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: Four Make it through. Yeah.
Keegan Stewart: So ending, ending this episode with just a little bit of Harry Potter fun, I want to ask you both will start with Kaua. How would you rank the Harry Potter books in your opinion? I kind of laughed coming in. You were like, yeah, I like I like Harry Potter a little bit. And I've read the books twice, you know, I was like, Oh, wow, yeah.
You like it a little bit. That's awesome. But how would you rank them?
Kaua Awbrey: Oh, man, that's hard. I feel like that's going to get me in trouble with some diehard Harry Potter fans.
Keegan Stewart: You never know. You never know.
Kaua Awbrey: I think. Well, I would have to say, first of all, my favorite one was definitely Goblet of Fire. I especially love that because of the movie, I really enjoyed the Dragons and the different tournaments. Um, I think I would have to put my second as Prisoner of Azkaban. Mm. I know. It a great one. I love the night bus.
Mm hmm. That scene was wonderful. It's a huge fan of Sirius Black. Then I'm going to put the Sorcerer's Stone. I think just like starting out the book and getting familiar with the world is really fun. Um, then I'm going to say Deathly Hallows Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince. Yeah.
Keegan Stewart: Nice. And so leave. That leaves Order of the Phoenix.
Kaua Awbrey: Oh, yes.
Keegan Stewart: At the bottom. Is that correct?
Kaua Awbrey: I'll put order of the Phenix above Half-Blood Prince.
Keegan Stewart: Okay. There you go, Doctor. Hawley, I'm curious to hear your rankings.
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: I wouldn't change much about that. Know, when they first came out, I was in the middle of doing some graduate work and decided I'm not going to touch these until I'm done with my work. And so I kind of felt sorry for the people that were having to wait, you know, year after year for the next one. And I just avoided all conversations.
Once they turned Harry Potter, I would walk away, cover my ears, whatever I needed to do, especially to get to where the later books and secrets were being revealed about what exactly was happening to the plot and who was making it and who is not from one book to the next. So I just about them all straight through.
Once I was finished. They had.
Keegan Stewart: All been released before you started the.
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: First one. That's right. Yeah. Gotcha. But I think probably the last two books getting to the conclusion of what he's actually going to do. Sometimes I, I enjoy all the others, but I want to know how this is going to end. I want this to end. I want him to to find some way toward the truth. That's another part of the intriguing part of the story.
And what we'll talk about on Tuesday during the writing Carnival is as a narrative device, you withhold information. That's how you get a book series in, not just a single volume. You withhold information, you develop plots, and you make connections between the storylines, and you make it to where your protagonist has to learn things along the way, and sometimes not until the very end, but that's what gets people connected and roped and hooked.
And so wanting to see how that all comes to fruition and comes to a grand conclusion that that's what drew me the most and that that's what I keep going back to when I sit down to read the books or I want to pick up another one and my children are the same. They tend to pick up book seven and just read it over and over again.
Keegan Stewart: It's hard to put down once you read it the first time. Yeah, I agree with that. As a Harry Potter fan myself, I, I had a special interest in the sixth book, The Half-Blood Prince. And seeing Snape's story turn you kind of the redemption story for Snape and how you view him as an audience. I had a lot of fun with that.
I have to ask, though, you you saying you devoured the Harry Potter books there being seven of them. How fast did you fly through those things?
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: It didn't take long.
Keegan Stewart: A very modest response. It was a long weekend. Yeah, I'll never know. All right, Dr. Hawley, Kaua, any final words of encouragement or pitches to LCU community to come out to the writing carnival?
Kaua Awbrey: Yes. Freshman, please get involved in this. It is a really, really fun time on campus. It's nice to see your professors out there as well. And for those of it, the transfers and nontraditional students, this would be a great place to take your kids as well. We see a lot of our professors, kids running around the fair as well.
So yeah, just encouragement to everybody to be involved in that.
Dr. Kenneth Hawley: Yes, please come on out and join us. Engage as much as you feel comfortable engaging if it's just to to eat and witness it, if it's to to drop by a couple of booths, if it's just to do in the chapels, whatever you can do, we'd love to have you there and we're glad for this experience. It's one of the highlights of our department's year and we enjoy the time with the students and we always enjoy it when other people enjoy what we enjoy.
And this is kind of how things tend to work as humans. But but we love these stories. We think there's good in them for us all to learn from and to to take from it. And we hope that just being together is a good and we hope that we'll we'll all take advantage of that opportunity.
Keegan Stewart: Thank you both for being here for this conversation today. Thank you. Come out to the LCU writing carnival theme, Harry Potter, September 19th and 20th. There's a lot of fun that's going to be taking place. A lot of good happening. Thank you so much for listening to the LCU podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, go ahead and send it to someone else.
Who you think we'll do the same? Leave us a rating review. Follow and subscribe. I hope you have a great day. God bless.
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