15 February 2018 Photo Stephen Collett
Descriptions of everyday life experiences result in articles in internationally rated journal
In the name of our sorrow

Shortly after arriving at the University of the Free State in 2011, Prof Jan K Coetzee from the Department of Sociology initiated the research programme, The Narrative Study of Lives. This programme relates to the biographical descriptions that people give of their everyday life experiences. Among others, this programme resulted in his soon-to-be published book, Books and bones and other things.

Publishing success

Prof Coetzee explains that the programme is designed to provide a space for students to do in-depth research towards a master’s-by-thesis. Over the years, he says, the department got beautiful dissertations, covering a wide range of topics such as online gaming, living with physical disabilities, mother-daughter communication, and experiencing aging. Prof Coetzee is especially proud of the many articles produced by the programme. “Apart from several others, no fewer than 14 articles were published in a Special Edition of the internationally rated and accredited journal Qualitative Sociology Review in January 2017,” he says. “This research programme, and my own work within it, builds on the fact that in today’s world there is an increasing interest in the narrative study of lives. The Nobel Prize for Literature was even awarded to an oral historian in 2015.”

“The programme is designed
to provide a space for students
to do in-depth research towards
a master’s-by-thesis.”
—Prof Jan K Coetzee
Author ofBooks and
bones and other things

A book full of stories and art

Working specifically on “documents of life”, Prof Coetzee has been collecting old texts for many years, “some dating back to 1605”, he elaborates on his research and the content of his new book. “In addition, I’ve collected objects like fossils and antique relics over the years, and sculpted relevant objects - all of which have been installed in numerous small museum cases (photographed for the book). These installations represent an attempt at understanding the roots and sedimented layers of the social reality in which we find ourselves in 2018.”

The launch of Prof Coetzee’s book, Books and bones and other things. is planned for mid-2018 in Bloemfontein. This will be followed by an exhibition of the artwork featured in the publication at Everard Read’s acclaimed venue, Circa, early next year. Strauss and Co will administer a benefit auction of the works and the proceeds will be divided among nominated charities.

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