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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

Competition emphasises value of mother-tongue education
2017-11-02

Description: Public Speaking Competition  Tags: Public Speaking Competition  

At the recent Multilingual Debating Competition were, from the left: Anita Muller,
local facilitator; William Magwa, master of ceremonies; Dr Chrismi-Rinda Loth,
project coordinator in the Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment; and
Mabatho Ntsieng, project facilitator in Community Engagement.
Photo: Supplied

The Multilingual Public Speaking Competition has been an annual event in Philippolis since 2013. The competition was established as a result of the Multilingual Information Development Programme (MIDP), a project sponsored by the province of Antwerp in Flanders, Belgium. 

The competition is jointly hosted by the Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment (ULFE) at the University of the Free State (UFS) and the Department of Community Engagement, also from the UFS. 

Debating in your home language
Grade 6 to 9 learners from four schools participated in this year’s competition. Bergmanshoogte Intermediate School, Madikgetla Primary School, Williamsville Primary School, and Springfontein Primary School each entered their three best speakers per grade. 

Olerato Tshiloane, a Grade 7 learner from Madikgetla Primary School, was named best speaker overall. 

Everyone debated on ‘Heritage’
The overall theme of this annual event was ‘Heritage’. Thirty six learners debated in their mother tongue on aspects of this theme, such as its definition, the role it plays in their lives, and the importance thereof. According to Dr Chrismi-Rinda Loth from ULFE, learners have to present their speeches in their mother tongues. “This emphasises the value of the mother tongue/home language within a teaching context,” she says.

This year’s competition saw 20 Afrikaans speeches, 13 in Sesotho, and three in isiXhosa. The multilingual adjudication panel was composed of teachers from the participating schools, and the head adjudicator from the Afrikaanse Taal- en Kultuurvereniging (ATKV). The ATKV is a partial sponsor of the competition and also provides the participation certificates. 

Dr Loth says ULFE and Community Engagement are looking forward to continue their collaboration, thus contributing to the empowerment of the community.

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