Marie van Haaster is the winner of the RICH Master's Thesis Award 2022. She receives the award for her thesis "Longing for Consolation: Emotive failure and changing affective niches for late nineteenth-century French materialists."
Sense of consolation
In her thesis, Van Haaster focuses on the Libres Penseurs, a community of positivist, materialist and anticlerical thinkers who dominated public debate in France in the late nineteenth century. The sense of 'consolation' was central to the Catholic faith during this period, which is precisely why it was a controversial topic for the Libres Penseurs. In her thesis, van Haaster shows that this community of freethinkers had a paradoxical relationship with consolation. On the one hand, they radically rejected consolation as useless and even harmful; yet on the other, they did not manage to completely detach themselves from it. In her thesis, van Haaster tries to explain this paradox using the theories and conceptualisations of emotion most commonly used in the history of emotion. She shows where existing conceptualisations fall short and offers an alternative theoretical model.