FT 011-E Flyfishing: The Liberal Art
David Hadley, Department of Political Psychology
For some, fly fishing is sport. For others, it is a diversion, a hobby, an art, something of a science, or even a religious experience. As Norman Maclean wrote in A River Runs Through It, “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.” For students in this Freshman Tutorial, fly fishing will begin an immersion, quite literally, a baptism of sorts, into the liberal arts and a liberal arts education. Beginning with what at Wabash we call an “immersion trip” to Bozeman, Montana the week before Freshman Orientation, this course will use fly fishing as an introduction to the liberal arts experience. In the rivers and streams around Bozeman, students will learn and practice the techniques of fly casting and fishing, enjoy the beauty of the fish and the environment they inhabit, and begin to ask and explore the myriad questions that can flow over and around them as they stand in the middle of a mountain stream waiting for a fish to rise to fly. Upon returning to Wabash, they will read some of the fine literature written about fly fishing; learn more about the biology and ecology of the sport, hobby, or religion; study aspects of its politics and economics; and consider it from different philosophical and ethical perspectives. In this course the student will experience and examine fly fishing through the lenses of the humanist, the natural scientist, and the social scientist. He will develop skills of observation, careful and critical reading, analysis, and clear and creative communication. This course begins and ends with the premise that in the liberal art of fly fishing, to borrow words again from Norman Maclean, “all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”w
Hadley, David J.