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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

New developments in the Faculty of Theology and Religion
2017-08-30

Description: Theology read more Tags: Faculty of Theology and Religion, name change, Prof Fanie Snyman, restructuring, teaching and research 

Bishop JM Khumalo, Apostolic Church of
Christ; Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the
Faculty of Theology and Religion; and
Rev Simon Galada, Wesleyan Church,
at the faculty’s official opening in
February 2017. 
Photo: Eugene Seegers



At a meeting of the UFS Council last year, a name change was accepted for the Faculty of Theology, renaming it to the Faculty of Theology and Religion. This change signals openness in approach to other religions, in addition to those of Christian denominations. This is a development that took root in Europe a few years ago. Furthermore, a growing field of interest is the study of the impact religion has had and still has, even in highly secularised societies. This name change is the first of its kind in South Africa, which means that the faculty will lead the way in transformation and impact-based religious studies.

Exciting times lie ahead
Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the faculty, says of these refinements: “The new name and restructuring of departments will lead to a new synergy that will have an impact on our teaching and research in the faculty. Exciting times lie ahead for the Faculty of Theology and Religion!”

Apart from the change in the name of the faculty, departments within the faculty were also regrouped, with new names. The Departments of Old Testament and New Testament merged to become the Department of Old and New Testament Studies, while the Departments of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology merged and will now be known as the Department of Historical and Constructive Theology. The former Departments of Practical Theology and Missiology became the Department of Practical and Missional Theology. The Department of Religion Studies remained unchanged to emphasise the importance of religion in South Africa and the world at large.
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Distinction of theological disciplines
The rationale for these groupings is the distinction of theological disciplines in terms of the study of texts (Old and New Testament), sources (Systematic Theology and Church History), and practices (Practical Theology and Missiology). One benefit of these newly-constructed departments is that they will be more cost-effective, but the more important advantage is that this will stimulate discussion and research across the various theological disciplines.


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