We missed this back in 2019, when Eric H. Reiter (Concordia University) published Wounded Feelings: Litigating Emotions in Quebec, 1870-1950 with the University of Toronto Press. In 2020, the book won the Canadian Historical Association's Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History Prize and the Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Scholarly Research. From the publisher:
Wounded Feelings is the first legal history of emotions in Canada. Through detailed histories of how people litigated emotional injuries like dishonour, humiliation, grief, and betrayal before the Quebec civil courts from 1870 to 1950, Eric H. Reiter explores the confrontation between people’s lived experience of emotion and the legal categories and terminology of lawyers, judges, and courts. Drawing on archival case files, newspapers, and contemporary legal writings, he examines how individuals narrated their claims of injured feelings and how the courts assessed those claims using legal rules, social norms, and the judges’ own feelings to validate certain emotional injuries and reject others.
The cases reveal both contemporary views of emotion as well as the family, gender, class, linguistic, and racial dynamics that shaped those understandings and their adjudication. Examples include a family’s grief over their infant son’s death due to a physician’s prescription error, a wealthy woman’s mortification at being harassed by a conductor aboard a train, and a Black man's indignation at being denied seats at a Montreal cinema. The book also traces an important legal change in how moral injury was conceptualized in Quebec civil law over the period as it came to be linked to the developing idea of personality rights. By 1950 the subjective richness of stories of wounded feelings was increasingly put into the language of violated rights, a development with implications for both social understandings of emotion and how individuals presented their emotional injuries in court.
Praise for the book:
"Wounded Feelings is a very rich book that less seeks to provide a simple explanation of what emotional suffering was meant to be than to use discussions of such feeling as an access point to how people considered questions of self, reputation, bodily autonomy, and personal rights." - Katie Barclay
"Wounded Feelings is an excellent study of how Quebec individuals, lawyers, and judges dealt with legal claims touching broadly on issues in the realm of the emotions. Building on this growing interest in the history of emotions, Wounded Feelings provides fascinating discussion on cases that reveal much about day-to-day life, functional and dysfunctional families, and the social and power dynamics of class, status, age, race, and gender across an eighty-year period of Quebec history." - Bettina Bradbury
"The ground-breaking thesis of Wounded Feelings is supported by outstanding research and an abundance of sources." - Michel Morin
Further information is available here.