Prof.dr. R.H. (Rolf) Bremmer

  • Professor English Philology
  • Extraordinary Professor Frisian
  • Old and Middle English language, literature and culture
  • Old Frisian language, literature and culture

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2162
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Centre for the Arts in Society, Moderne Engelstalige letterkunde
Office Address: Witte Singel-complex
P.N. van Eyckhof 4
2311 BV Leiden
Room number 2.04B

Fields of interest

  • Old and Middle English Language, Literature and Culture
  • History of the English Language
  • History of English Studies, esp. 16th and 17th centuries
  • Old Frisian Language, Literature and Culture


Within the field of English studies, my research has moved between Anglo-Saxon heroic literature, sources of Anglo-Saxon literary culture, Anglo-Saxon manuscript studies, medieval English devotional and hagiographical literature, on the one hand, and philologists such as Franciscus Junius (1591–1677) and Johannes de Laet (1581–1649), on the other.

Whenever I mention that I also teach Frisian in addition to English, I usually hear: ‘I didn’t know you were Frisian!’. It is a frequently heard misconception in the Netherlands that one needs to be Frisian in order to study it. Friesland has a fascinating cultural history that we can follow from the early Middle Ages onwards. The language itself first emerges from 13th-century manuscripts. A good deal of the Frisian literature from that time onwards is characterized by a struggle for cultural preservation against external forces.

I am intrigued by the will of a small nation to cherish its language and culture throughout the centuries. I hope to convey this fascination in my lectures. I wish to show that the study of Frisian, whether medieval or later, provides a range of welcome perspectives, including of the various disciplines from which my students come.

Curriculum vitae

  • Leiden University, 1986 - present
  • Radboud University Nijmegen, 1979 - 1986
  • Gomarus College, Groningen, 1977 - 1979
  • In 1994 I held the Erasmus Chair in Dutch History and Culture at Harvard University
  • Ph.D. Radboud University Nijmegen, 1987 (supervisor Prof. F.N.M. Diekstra)
  • M.A. Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 1970-1977 (supervisor Prof. J. Gerritisen)
  • Gymnasium Alpha, Ichthus College, Enschede

Key publications

  • (2012) with Kees Dekker, Saints’ Lives and Homilies. Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile 21, Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
  • (2010) Practice in Learning. The Transfer of Encyclopaedic Knowledge in the Early Middle Ages, ed. Rolf H. Bremmer Jr and Kees Dekker. Paris, Leuven and Dudley, MA: Peeters.
  • (2009) An Introduction to Old Frisian. History, Grammar, Reader, Glossary. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins; repr. 2011.
  • (2007) Advances in Old Frisian Philology, ed. Rolf H. Bremmer Jr, Stephen Laker and Oebele Vries. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.
  • (2007) Signs on the Edge. Space, Text and Margin in Medieval Manuscripts, ed. Sarah Larratt Keefer and Rolf H. Bremmer Jr. Paris, Leuven and Dudley, MA: Peeters.

Last Modified: 10-12-2015