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An "Angry and Malicious Mind"? Narratives of Slander at the Church Courts of York, c.1660-c.1760.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • F. Bound Alberti
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/10/2003
<mark>Journal</mark>History Workshop Journal
Issue number1
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)59-77
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article explores the role and significance of the emotion of anger in slander litigation in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century church courts. It argues that existing historiographies place insufficient emphasis on the shaping mechanisms of legal and court process in the production of narratives of complaint. For rather than being incidental or ‘background’ information to dispute, the existence of an ‘angry and malicious mind’ was fundamental to the definition of slander under ecclesiastical law. This claim has implications for historians of emotion more generally, as it reveals the complex traditions of emotion beliefs in specific discursive fields in the past, and the (related) difficulties of accessing or interpreting individual ‘feelings’ through the historical record. Yet in proving the existence of ‘anger’ in slander disputes, contemporaries cited as evidence a range of communicative displays – from the volume and pitch of voice used by the defendant to the physical distance between disputants – that have seldom been considered as part of emotional embodiment. Analysis of such strategies allows us to explore the meanings of anger as socially constituted in and through the realm of practice.

Bibliographic note

In this paper, Bound Alberti used literary analysis and a range of theoretical perspectives to rethink the meaning of slander suits as literary documents RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : History