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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

Kovsie Biggest Braai a huge success
2017-08-30

 Description: Braai Tags: Kovsie Biggest Braai, Kovsie, International Student Council 

Prof Francis Petersen, also attending the braai, is here being
interviewed by one of our #KovsieCyberStas, Thuli Molebalwa.
Photo: Charl Devenish

Even though Braai Day is celebrated nationally in September, students at the University of the Free State (UFS) had their own braai day. The Kovsie Biggest Braai was the biggest student community event of the year.

Takudzwa Nyamunda of the International Student Council said the idea for the braai came from the International Student Association as a social cohesion event for international students. “When the idea was presented to my office we realised the potential for such an initiative to be not just for students but for the whole Kovsie community.”  

They realised there were not a lot of social cohesion events on campus where students and staff could just take a day to relax and embrace the feeling of being a Kovsie. He said he believed the braai could provide the right platform. The main objective of this project was to make it an institutional event with aspects of fundraising for the future. 

Colleges made KBB a success 
An estimated 3500 people attended the festivities on Red Square on 12 August. “We used the college format for the braai and it was set in the form of a challenge between the five colleges, but one of the colleges pulled out,” Takudzwa said. The colleges that did participate made a big contribution towards the success of the event and did all the braaing and selling. 

Creating new Kovsie traditions 
The idea behind the pilot project is that it becomes an annual event which in turn will form part of a new Kovsies tradition. “It received endorsement from top management therefore I believe it will form part of the Kovsie calendar for years to come,” Takudzwa said. 

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