Ms I.L.N. (Nanouschka) Wamelink-van Dijk MA

  • Faculty of Humanities
    Capaciteitsgroep Religiestudies
  • Visiting address
    Oost-Indisch Huis
    Kloveniersburgwal 48  Room number: D 1.06
  • Postal address:
    Kloveniersburgwal  48
    1012 CX  Amsterdam

Nanouschka Wamelink is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam School for Culture and History (Faculty of Humanities). Her research project “Fasting in the public eye: medieval ideas about saintly self-starvation and spectatorship” is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (PhDs in the Humanities, round 2015). Nanouschka’s research is supervised by prof Gerard Wiegers and dr Jacqueline Borsje.


Research project

In the Middle Ages, dozens of female saints were believed to have stopped eating and drinking except for the Holy Eucharist. This radical kind of fasting is in scholarly literature referred to as inedia and formed an important marker of female holiness. In medieval sources, this inedia is described as a public act, in which women performed their starvation in front of spectators. Also, these sources themselves were used to disseminate ideas about female holiness to a public. This research will consist of the analysis of approximately 15 medieval case studies from the Low Countries, Germany, France and Italy. On the one hand, the medieval ideas about performances of inedia as described and depicted in various sources will be investigated with regard to the relationship between performer and public. This will be done by comparing these medieval case studies in a historical-literary analysis. On the other hand, the ways in which medieval notions of food abstinence as holiness were construed and distributed by various sources to an intended public will be investigated in a source critical analysis. Additionally, the alleged performances of inedia, as well as the usage of media to communicate an idea of self-starvation to a public, will be compared with the public imaging of other forms of food abstinence from various periods of time, such as hunger strikes, anorexia nervosa, and the fasting of hunger artists. 


Qualifications & training

2014  Research Master Religious Studies, University of Amsterdam  
         - winner Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Amsterdam thesis award  
         - special honours for thesis by  Vereniging voor Nederlandse Kerkgeschiedenis

2012 Bachelor Religious Studies, University of Amsterdam 
         - cum laude

​2012 Bachelor Theaterwetenschap, University of Amsterdam 
         - cum laude


Academic memberships

Junior member of the Research School for Medieval Studies

Member of the interdisciplinary research group Religious Dynamics and Cultural Diversity 

2017-2018 Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis (werkgroepen, bachelor Geschiedenis)

2015-2016 Vergelijkende Religiewetenschap (werkgroepen, bachelor Religiewetenschap)

2014-2015 Inleiding Vergelijkende Religiewetenschap (werkgroepen, bachelor Religiewetenschap)

2018 Saintly food rejection and the role of bystanders (paper is accepted) | Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiographies from East to West (international conference at Academia Belgica)| February 15-17 | Rome, Italy

2017 'Fasting in the public eye' | PhD Conference (Onderzoeksschool Medievistiek) | November 8 | Catharijneconvent Utrecht, The Netherlands

2017 'Saintly self-starvation and its authorizing witnesses' | Berkshire Conference of Women Historians (international conference) | June 1-4 | Hofstra University, New York, USA |

2017  ‘Secrets in the Middle Ages’ | 17th Symposium of the Medievalists’ Society (international conference) | March 19-22 | University of Bonn, Germany |


2016  'Performing self-starvation in the Middle Ages' | International Medieval Congress (international conference) | July 4-8 | University of Leeds, United Kingdom.

2016 'Fasting in the public eye: medieval ideas about saintly self-starvation and spectatorship' | Noster Spring Conference (national conference) | April 18-19 | Conference Hotel Kontakt der Kontinenten, Soesterberg, The Netherlands

2015 'Interpreting the unseen spectacle of the past' | CIVITAS Medieval Studies Day (research school conference) | October 30 | Ghent University, Belgium. 

2015   'Rejecting and donating food in the public eye. (Dis)trust of food gifts in the Middle Ages' | Trusting the hand that feeds you. Understanding the historical evolution of trust in food (international conference) | September 7-9 | Free University  Brussels, Belgium.

2015  '"As long as there is life in my body I shall not..."  A binding vow of abstinence in the Life of Saint Catharine of Siena' | Charms, Charmers and Charming (international conference) | May 15-17 | University of Pécs, Hungary.

2014  'Embodied Memory. The entanglement of past and present in Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds' | Things to Remember: Materializing Memories in Art and Popular Culture (international conference) | June 5-6 | Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


  • Wamelink-van Dijk, I. L. N. (Author). (2016). Zelfverhongering als publiek spektakel.

Talk / presentation

  • Wamelink-van Dijk, Nanouschka (speaker) (5-7-2016): Performing self-starvation in the Middle Ages, International Medieval Congress Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.
  • Wamelink-van Dijk, Nanouschka (speaker) (18-4-2016): Fasting in the public eye: medieval ideas about saintly self-starvation and spectatorship (presentation of recently started research), Noster PhD spring conference, Soesterberg, Netherlands.
  • Wamelink-van Dijk, Nanouschka (speaker) (15-10-2015): Interpreting the unseen spectacle of the past (presentation of recently started research), 21st Dutch-Flemish Medieval Studies Day, Ghent, Belgium.
  • Wamelink-van Dijk, Nanouschka (speaker) (8-9-2015): Rejecting and donating food in the public eye. (Dis)trust of food gifts in the Middle Ages, Trusting the hand that feeds you, Brussel, Belgium.
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