Een ‘vuurige aandoening van het hart’ - Drift en geestdrift in het Nederlands theater en de Nationale Vergadering, 1780-1800 | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 126, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163


This article investigates the connections between theatre and politics during the Patriotic and Batavian revolutions from the perspective of the history of emotions. In order to understand differences and shifts in emotional styles among the Dutch revolutionaries, it explores the semantic field of two closely interlinked concepts crucial to their emotional culture: passion (drift) and political enthusiasm (geestdrift). Late eighteenth-century plays and parliamentary proceedings from 1796 reveal a spectacular change in the emotional meaning of these concepts, not just from an abstract intellectual point of view, but also on the level of physical embodiment. Passion appears as a central theme in many plays. It is often depicted as a source of negativity for impulsive hotheads. Ultimately, however, from the 1790s on, passion appears as essential to a new spirit necessary for political renewal and reform. On stage but also in parliament a new distinctive emotional strategy was promoted, a type of behavior which could be described as a demonstrative display of ‘enthusiasmus’, a totally new political concept stripped of its original connotations of religious fanaticism. This new positive meaning describes the force animating the revolutionary drive to end all economic, social, and political injustice.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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