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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

Top PhD graduates hailed for excellent research in development and historical studies
2017-07-11

 Description: Top PhD graduates hailed for excellent research  Tags: Top PhD graduates hailed for excellent research  

Prof Melanie Walker and Prof Ian Phimister

The Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development and the International Studies Group celebrated its PhD graduates on 26 June 2017. The four graduates were joined by their PhD promoters Prof Ian Phimister and Prof Melanie Walker, the Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, and their families, who came from far and wide, as well as various faculty academics and staff. Their areas of study ranged between Development Studies and Africa Studies, exploring issues that make a significant impact on the Southern African region and the continent as a whole.

In the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, specialising in Development Studies, Dr Faith Mkwananzi, promoted by Prof Merridy Wilson-Strydom, explored the lives and educational aspirations of marginalised migrant youth, a case study in Johannesburg. She focused on the complex nature of the daily lives and experiences of marginalised migrant youth and the complexities that influence the formation and achievement of educational aspirations in contexts of vulnerability and disadvantage. The study provides compelling evidence for policy and practice that can make the lives of marginalised young migrants better.

A focus on teaching and learning in Zimbabwean universities with a focus on quality as a human development, was what Dr Patience Mukwambo, put her research efforts into. Her work makes an original contribution to national, continental, and international debates on conceptualising and operationalising the quality of teaching and learning in higher education. She successfully developed a significant alternative approach to understanding what quality in higher education teaching and learning entails, the factors that influence the realisation of quality as she theorises it, and the overall importance for human development and human well-being in universities and society.

Dr Bothwell Manyonga, who also specialised in Development Studies, examined the broader debates on the purposes and practices of teaching and learning in higher education with a case study at two South African universities, with an emphasis on principles of social justice and equity. In the thesis, he developed a model that proposes grounds for (re)thinking sociology teaching and learning to address how the capabilities approach and dominant human capital theory might complement each other in higher education and curriculum development. This takes into account both the instrumental aim of employment, which is of concern to students, as well as the intrinsic goods of critical discourse and personal development.

In the Faculty of the Humanities, with a specialisation in Africa Studies, Dr Abraham Mlombo’s doctoral research explored the relationship between Southern Rhodesia and South Africa 1923-1953, examining the ‘special relationship’ between the two countries from the former’s perspective, highlighting the complexity of the ties between them by examining (high) political relations, economic links and social and cultural ties. “It is through Abraham’s research that for the first time, black experiences of both sides of the colonial border are detailed,” said Prof Phimister.

In congratulating the graduates, Prof Melanie Walker expressed that a lot of hard work was put into training the PhD candidates and they had without a doubt produced work that was of the highest level, at international standards.

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