Fishing in the College Classroom

A cap from my previous institution, and a fly fishing journal that all of my students signed.

Recently, my departmental chairperson, at the university at which I teach, suggested that I offer a course dealing with fly fishing.  This, she said, could be framed as part of the university’s two-year initiative to focus on matters surrounding water.  I readily agreed.

I had the pleasure of teaching an interdisciplinary course at my previous institution, in which I used fly fishing as a theme to examine broader issues.  I very much enjoyed teaching that course.  When I left that school to spend more time with my wife–a professor in another state–and daughter, I assumed that I would never have the chance to offer a course like that again.

Happily, I was wrong.  I am eager to teach a new version of the course this spring.  The students will read historically important texts ranging from Juliana Berner’s (authorship disputed) The Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle (1486) to Norman Maclean’s A River runs Through It (1976). In doing so, they will try to discern why religious themes are so prevalent in these texts, written over a span of over six centuries.  Among other things, they will need to consider the role that water and the so-called “natural” world might play in the religious views of the authors.

I am eager to read and discuss these texts with my students.  I am also eager to hear their thoughts about how views of water, held by centuries of fisherpersons, have changed or remained the same.  And I wonder if, perhaps, we can learn something about why so many people today pay so little attention to water.  Indeed, many take it for granted, despite its power and our need for it.

So the vast Collection of Waters sometimes heaves in its briny Billow, swells every Bay, and rushes with Joy tho’ every Channel; as from an Engine played by the Almighty Arm; then sinks into her deep Caverns, leaves Room for the Return of the Rapid Rivers; with vast Addition from in-land Oceans.

Reverend Joseph Seccombe, 1739.

2 Responses to “Fishing in the College Classroom”

  1. emblock Says:

    This is a fantastic idea. I very much wish I could audit! I hope you’ll share things along the way.


    • Kenov Says:

      Thanks! I’ll send along a syllabus, as soon as I have one. There will be quite a bit of reading, since it is an upper-level seminar. Of course, there will be opportunities for students to fish and fly tie, outside of the regular class.

      Sent from my iPod


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