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Sam Fouts: Interweaving Old English Poetry with Climate Change Awareness

In an era marked by escalating environmental concerns, Sam Fouts, a senior English Creative Writing major at Miami University, has embarked on a unique literary endeavor. Inspired by his passion for medieval literature, Fouts is crafting a collection of Old English-style poems that delve into the pressing issue of climate change. His project aims to fuse his academic interests with a pressing global concern, shedding light on environmental degradation through the lens of ancient poetic traditions.

Exploring Old English Literature and Climate Change

Fouts’s literary journey began with a profound appreciation for medieval literature, particularly the Exeter Book, a renowned Old English manuscript containing various poems, riddles, and elegies. Struck by the evocative power of Old English poetry, Fouts recognized its potential to address contemporary challenges. He saw in Beowulf, one of the most celebrated Old English poems, a compelling narrative that could be reinterpreted to provide insightful commentary on climate change.

From Inspiration to Implementation: The Genesis of the Poetry Collection

The seeds of Fouts’s poetry collection were sown during his sophomore year when he embarked on an honors extension project for an Old and Middle English literature class. This project involved composing an elegy focused on climate change, accompanied by an essay elucidating its significance. The project sparked a deeper exploration of the intersection between literature and environmentalism, leading Fouts to delve into Paul Kingsworth’s novel, The Wake, which he found to contain thought-provoking implications for his work.

Guidance, Support, and Collaboration

Throughout his literary endeavor, Fouts has benefited from the invaluable guidance of Patrick Murphy, a professor of English, co-director of Miami’s literature program, and medieval scholar. Murphy’s expertise in Old English literature and his passion for environmental studies have been instrumental in shaping Fouts’s project. The collaborative relationship between Fouts and Murphy underscores the importance of mentorship and interdisciplinary dialogue in fostering creative and impactful scholarship.

Enhancing Research Skills and Navigating Academic Discourse

The process of creating the poetry collection has not been without its challenges. Fouts encountered the need to strengthen his research skills and navigate the complexities of academic writing. Through extensive reading and exploration of scholarly resources, he gained a deeper understanding of literary theory and environmental studies. This journey of academic discovery not only enriched his knowledge but also cultivated a greater appreciation for the nuances of academic discourse.

The Power of Stories in Addressing Global Issues

Fouts believes that stories possess a unique ability to connect with audiences on a profound level, making them effective vehicles for addressing global issues like climate change. He emphasizes the importance of crafting narratives that provide a framework for processing chaotic events and offer solace and understanding to readers. His poetry collection aims to harness the evocative power of Old English poetry to engage readers with the urgency of climate change and inspire action toward environmental preservation.

Future Aspirations and the Pursuit of Graduate Studies

Upon graduating in spring 2024, Fouts plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. This advanced degree will further refine his literary skills and deepen his understanding of the craft of writing. The pursuit of graduate studies reflects Fouts’s commitment to developing his artistic voice and exploring new avenues for creative expression.


Sam Fouts’s poetry collection stands as a testament to the enduring power of literature to address contemporary issues. By merging the traditions of Old English poetry with the urgency of climate change, Fouts seeks to raise awareness, inspire action, and foster a deeper understanding of the environmental crisis. His work exemplifies the transformative potential of literature in shaping public discourse and promoting positive change.