The 2023 Conway Lectures: Linda G. Jones (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona), "Contested Female Authority and the Transmission of Knowledge in Medieval Sunni Islam"


Location: Eck Visitors Center Auditorium and live-streamed on our YouTube channel (View on

Medieval Muslim Women Maqamat Al Hariri imageMedieval Muslim Women, Maqamat Al Hariri

This talk will be held in-person and streamed live on our YouTube channel. Vist the event main page to find the viewing link.

This lecture will be followed by a reception.

About the Talk

Ibn Qunfudh, a 14th-century Algerian biographer of the female saint ‘Azīza al-Saksāwiyya, admirably described how whenever ‘Azīza attended the mixed-gender religious assemblies “she would sit in the middle and deliver sermons, injunctions, and juridical responses” to everyone, displaying such “confident authority” that “no one would move without her order”. Yet Ibn Qunfudh's contemporary, the Egyptian jurist Ibn al-Ḥājj denounced “the moral corruption of men, women, and children all mingled together before the male or female hortatory preacher” and urged the authorities to forbid women from attending the assembly of “someone whom they claimed to be a female shaykh.” This lecture discusses how such contrasting opinions about the status and propriety of Muslim female  preachers are symptomatic of larger historical deliberations and contemporary scholarly debates among Muslim feminists concerning the roles Muslim women played in the transmission of knowledge and the extent of their involvement in Islam’s oral and written culture.

About the Speaker

Linda G. Jones is a Research Professor of Medieval History at Pompeu Fabra University. Her research focuses on the religious and cultural history of medieval Muslim Iberia and the Maghreb, medieval Islamic preaching, the religiosity of the Mudejars, and cross-cultural gender studies. She has published a monographic book on Islamic preaching, coedited collective volumes on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim preaching and sainthood, and has several publications on islamic oratory and on gender, masculinity and Islam, including “Representations of Hegemonic Masculinities in Medieval Leonese-Castilian and Almohad Chronicles," Speculum 97/3 (2022): 737-774; and “Constructing Gender Identities and Relations in a Mudejar Hortatory Sermon Addressed to Women," Medieval Sophia 24 (2022). Her current research projects include a study of representations of male grief in premodern Islamic literature, a study of gender distinctions in the hagiographies of male and female Muslim saints, and the edition and analysis of two Mudejar sermonaries.

About the Series

In 2002, the Medieval Institute inaugurated a lecture series in honor of Robert M. and Ricki Conway. Robert Conway was a 1966 graduate of Notre Dame and trustee of the University, He was (and his wife Ricki continues to be) a long-time friend and supporter of the Medieval Institute. The annual Conway Lectures bring senior scholars of international distinction to Notre Dame each fall to speak on topics across a variety of disciplines.