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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

Staff member gets fellowship for HIV prevention advocacy
2008-08-01

Ms Estelle Heideman, HIV/Aids Co-ordinator at the Lengau Agriculture Development Centre of the University of the Free State (UFS), was awarded a fellowship under a leadership initiative in the United States of America (USA). It entails an eight-week training programme to help cultivate women leaders in South Africa who will make major contributions to HIV prevention advocacy at the local, regional and national levels. The programme is underwritten by the MAC AIDS Fund and managed by the HIV Centre for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at Columbia University in New York City and the UCLA Program in Global Health at the University of California in Los Angeles. Fellows will participate in an orientation overview, attend regular scheduled prevention seminars and policy meetings, and hold meetings with mentors. At the conclusion of the programme, the leadership initiative will, amongst other benefits, provide funds for fellows to carry out their prevention programme in South Africa. Ms Heideman, in collaboration with the university’s Chief Directorate Community Service and Free State Rural Development Programme, has been working on a number of farms in the southern Free State since 2006. The prevention plan that captured the interest of the US panel of judges is an eight-week programme among farm workers in the Philippolis district with the aim to equip them to take control of their lives by knowing their HIV status and living a healthy lifestyle.
Photo: Supplied
 

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