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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

Prof Andre Keet to chair Ministerial Oversight Committee on Transformation
2017-07-14

Description: Prof Andre Keet  Tags: Transformation, Higher Education, Oversight Committee, appointment 

Prof Andre Keet 
Photo: Stephen Collet

Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande has increased from seven to 10 the number of members of the Ministerial Oversight Committee on the Transformation in the South African Public Universities.

In a government gazette published on 7 July 2017‚ Dr Nzimande appointed new members of the committee for a three-year term to be chaired by Prof Andre Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State (UFS). Prof Keet is a returning member of the committee alongside former University of Fort Hare chancellor Dr Mvuyo Tom.

The purpose of the Ministerial Oversight Committee on Transformation in South African Public Universities is to monitor progress on transformation in public universities‚ serve as an expert advisory body and provide independent and external advice to the minister and the department.

The committee has been given 11 tasks‚ chief of which is to study and evaluate transformation plans and charters of all universities. It is mandated to use this exercise as a basis for the development of a sectoral transformation charter. It is also tasked with reviewing the annual reports of institutions on transformation and producing an annual report on the state of transformation in the higher education sector.

Prof Keet’s appointment comes at a pivotal time when transformation at universities has been at the heart of many debates in universities, government and broader society. Prof Keet said: “It is an honour and privilege to serve the sector at this level and in this capacity.”

The university is proud to have in its ranks a leader of such calibre who has also spearheaded transformation initiatives at the UFS through the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice over the past six years.

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