Dr. N.C. (Nienke) Venderbosch

  • Old English Language, Literature, and Culture
  • Middle English Language, Literature, and Culture
  • Reception Theory/Medievalism


In my research, the broader question I have struggled with is rather Rumsfeldian: What do we ultimately really know about the Anglo-Saxon period, its people and its culture?; and how do we know what we know?

For my dissertation, I engaged with this question by looking at how readers and scholars of Beowulf, through their interpretations of the monster Grendel, have attempted to gain insight into Anglo-Saxon worries, fears, and concerns, based on the idea that monsters are a culture’s anxieties incarnate. Covering two centuries’ worth of such interpretations, I show how Grendel has functioned as a screen onto which nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century preoccupations and fantasies have been projected. Any Anglo-Saxon anxieties and worries the monster may have embodied are difficult to uncover in the process.

My other research focuses on Arthurian legend in the medieval period, in particular the manuscript tradition of the Vulgate Cycle.

For a future project, I am hoping to study the relationship between orality and the narrative flow of time in medieval English poetry and prose.

Teaching activities

At Yale, I was a teaching fellow for courses on Shakespeare, Film Studies, and Literary Theory. I also taught two introductory writing courses of my own design, one on the topic of empathy, the other on the depiction of sacrifice and martyrdom in literature and film.

At Leiden, I will teach courses on Old and Middle English and the History of the English Language. I also look forward to teaching an M.A. course this autumn entitled “King Arthur: History, Myth, and Romance in the Middle Ages and Beyond”.

Curriculum vitae

  • Leiden University, 2014 - present
  • Ph.D. Yale University, 2014 (supervisors Prof. Roberta Frank and Prof. Paul Fry)
  • M.Phil. (Medieval Studies): Yale University, 2009
  • M.A. Yale University, 2008
  • Doctoraal/B.A. Leiden University, 2005 (supervisor Prof. dr. Rolf Bremmer)
  • Harting Scholarship, York University, 2002-2003
  • Frölunda Gymnasiet, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Christelijk College Schaersvoorde, Aalten

Last Modified: 10-12-2015