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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

Meet our Council: Marius Swart – a Councillor with deep roots in the UFS
2017-07-12

Description: Meet our Council: Marius Swart – a Councillor with deep roots in the UFS Tags: Marius Swart, University Council, Mediclinic, cardiothoracic surgeon, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery  

Marius Swart, Alumni election on the UFS Council.
Photo: Stephen Collett

Marius Swart, a Kovsie alumnus, is an Alumni election on the University Council. Not only is he a Kovsie alumnus, but all four of his siblings and their spouses are Kovsie alumni, as well as all three his children.   

Interest in future decisions at the UFS
He is currently practicing as cardiothoracic surgeon at Mediclinic in Bloemfontein, but has always been involved with the Faculty of Health Sciences at the university.  He spent eight years as consultant in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and recently became a registered student again when he enrolled for an interdisciplinary PhD.  He is currently also supervisor for the research projects of undergraduate medical students.

Thus, Marius no doubt has a substantial interest in the issues and future decisions at the UFS.

Guard against retroformation
"Higher education is a challenging environment and expectations about excellence and human development are being tested.  Transformation is on everybody’s lips, but we have to guard against what I would call retroformation – moving back to old regimes and new forms of exclusion," he says.

Marius is excited to begin his term with a new Rector and Vice-Chancellor.  He realises that many challenges awaits him as councillor on the way forward, but he is ready to pull his weight in Council.

"My own daughter is involved in the challenges students are experiencing on a daily basis, and my wife is supporting a first-generation rural student.  The university should be sensitive to these students.  Empowering them can bring change to communities."

His interests are varied and it is clear that he has a vision for a better world.

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