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Calgary Reviews

Summer class covers history and culture of Calgary Stampede

By Saima Asad, July 13 2016 —

Sit in class and gain course credit, or sit and eat Calgary Stampede food for a different kind of gain? Canadian Studies 451 at the University of Calgary offers both.

Offered since 2011, CNST 451 teaches the culture and history of the Calgary Stampede.

“It’s a bit about western identity and Calgarian identity as seen through the Stampede,” co-instructor William John Pratt said. “[The Stampede] has a long-standing relationship with Calgarians and the city and I guess it’s the signature event in many ways of Calgary. There’s a lot to [cover] in terms of sport, exhibition, entertainment and western heritage.”

While some students may enrol in the course expecting to sample midway food and country music, Pratt wants U of C students to learn how the Calgary Stampede interacts with the city’s identity.

He says the course goes beyond the Stampede itself by examining the event’s history and its lasting impacts on Calgary’s agricultural community.

“We get into this idea of the Stampede being more than just the 10 days,” he said. “The Stampede now — in the 21st century — is very much about educating Calgarians about the surrounding area in terms of agricultural production.”

Topics also include the role of women and indigenous peoples in the Calgary Stampede.

While CNST 451 is typically offered during both winter and summer semesters, in the summer, students get the chance to participate in field trips to the Stampede Grounds.

Students went to the grounds on July 11 and attended a lecture on the history of the Indian Village, before exploring the village themselves. The class will go to the grounds again on July 14.

“It’s an opportunity to go and interact with people who are putting on these events or look at how people are actually interacting with this place,” Pratt said.

Guest lectures in the winter often include people more involved with the Stampede’s year-round operations, rather than just during the 10-day event.

“We try to bring in Stampede employees [in the winter], maybe from marketing or one of the various agricultural committees,” Pratt said.

Although it’s too late to register for the class this semester, CNST 451 will be offered again in winter 2017.

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