For the second time, alumna Marie van Haaster is awarded a prize for her thesis, Longing for Consolation: Emotive failure and changing affective niches for late nineteenth-century French Materialists. In addition to the RICH Master's Thesis Award 2022, she will now also receive the Jan Brouwer Thesis Award. ''I am very honoured that the judges have read my thesis, and I feel very encouraged by the two awards,'' Van Haaster says enthusiastically. ''It is a positive confirmation that I should continue my research on this topic. This is very nice because I now work as a PhD student at the European University Institute in Florence.''
In her thesis, Marie van Haaster investigated the concept of 'consolation' in the French Third Republic. She focused specifically on how the Libres Penseurs, a community of positivist, materialist and anticlerical thinkers, related to the sense of 'consolation' that was central to the Catholic faith at the time. Van Haaster shows that this community had a paradoxical relationship with the concept; although they rejected Catholic thinking, sources reveal that the Libres Penseurs often yearned for consolationthemselves.
Van Haaster studied History and Philosophy, and in her thesis, she innovatively combined these two disciplines. Van Haaster: ''What interests me is the human experience of comfort and emotions. To understand these better, I did not want to look at them from a purely psychological or cultural-historical perspective, but rather bring these different approaches together.'' Van Haaster, therefore, complemented existing theories in the history of emotion with concepts from cognitive philosophy. The jury was very impressed by her groundbreaking approach: ''That is always a special achievement, but even more so when it comes from a novice researcher. Marie van Haaster has guts.''
The Jan Brouwer Thesis Prize
The Royal Holland Society of Sciences annually awards eight thesis prizes of € 2,000,- each for the Humanities and Social Sciences in eight different fields of science. Van Haaster received the prize in the field of History. The livestream of the 2023 award ceremony, including the presentation by Van Haaster, can be watched back here.