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22 August 2018
Prof Coetzee is retelling old stories in a new book
"Failing to Learn Doomed to repeat" was one of the bookworks on display.

The title of Prof Jan K Coetzee’s latest book, Books & Bones & Other Things, says it all. The book looks into the many aspects that have built our society by presenting in a new way the stories contained in old books collected over the years. 

Prof Coetzee is a Senior Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of the Free State (UFS). Books & Bones & Other Things was launched on 14 August 2018 and coincided with an exhibition of various “bookworks”   art installations by Prof Coetzee that feature old books, sculptures, artefacts, and fossils.
 
Book resulting from research programme 
   

“This is a book on books so the library is the perfect venue to launch a book on old texts as documents of life,” said Prof Coetzee.

For the past seven years he has been directing a Master’s and PhD programme in Sociology called The Narrative Study of Lives. His project, Documents of Life, from which this book came, focuses on a collection of old texts the oldest of which dates back to 1605.

“We live in storytelling societies and for as long as we can remember we have been telling stories. Over time the ability to produce books was born. Any collection of books can tell you a lot about your own life and the society you live in."

“I cannot read the stories of many of these old books because their narratives are closed. I have to re-narrate the books, change the narrative convention and present them in a way that makes sense to me. By combining the books with art and artefacts I want the books to tell their ancient stories in new ways.”

Book launches and intellectual discussions

At the book launch, Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research said: “What we have achieved with this launch and exhibition is unbelievable. We always try to create an intellectual space in the library.

“A book such as this is the pinnacle of an academic career. It is multidisciplinary and it looks at the world in a different way. That is what scholarship is about.”

A painting by Robert Hodgins was also handed over to the Johannes Stegmann Gallery, home of the corporate collection of the UFS, at the event. 

News Archive

Professor awarded a Fulbright Scholarship
2008-06-24

Prof. Frans Swanepoel, Director: Research Development and Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development at the University of the Free State (UFS), has received a Senior Fulbright Scholarship. He has been appointed as a visiting professor at Cornell University, New York, United States of America (USA) and will spend the period September 2008-January 2009 as a Fulbright Scholar at the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIFAD) where he will co-teach a Ph.D. course on agricultural development in Africa. The Fulbright Scholarship is regarded as one of the most prestigious awards by the USA government. The purpose of the scholarship is to promote mutual understanding, dialogue and partnership between the USA and other countries around the world.

During his stay Prof. Swanepoel will also conduct research supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates- and W.K. Kellogg Foundations to revise agricultural education curricula in Africa to become more responsive to the needs of smallholder African family farms. The goal of this research programme is the emergence of an agricultural human resource and knowledge system that drives smallholder farmer-led development and innovation to achieve improved productivity, food security and economic development in Africa.
Photo: Supplied

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