On the 18th of January, I had the opportunity to have dinner with and attend the lecture of Professor Janina Ramirez when she was visiting my school.


Ramirez is most well known by the general public for her BBC documentaries, such as Raiders of the Lost Past with Janina Ramirez (2019) in which she explores topics ranging from Tutankhamen to Vikings.


She also has written multiple books. Like the name suggests, The Private Lives of The Saints: Power, Passion and Politics in Angelo-Saxon England looks beyond the title of Saint and provides a fascinating approach to near mythical people. While not English, we had a great discussion over Saint Olga of Kiev, and her horrifically fascinating war tactics before her Sainthood. She also wrote the book Femina, where she explores the influence of women in the Middle Ages. As she told us in the talk, and is written in the book itself, the word Femina was used in libraries and archives to mark books written by women, as to signal which books should be destroyed or struck from the records. She found satisfaction from reclaiming this word for a book elaborating on the powerful impact of women.


She boasts an impressive resume of being a Research Fellow in History of Art at University of Oxford, an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the Department of History of Art at the University of York and a Visiting Professorship in Medieval Studies at the University of Lincoln. She actually got the email about her professorship after our meal, announcing it with ecstatic exclamation. 


In the talk itself, Ramirez told the audience, made up of sixth form students, about the historical significance of women of the past, showing photos from discoveries and of artefacts. She was able to convey extremely complicated topics in an digestible form. 


Ramirez was an extremely engaging speaker with a clear passion for the subject matter; she was even nice enough to sign my copy of Feminia!