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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

Nguni project flourishes
2008-08-28

 

The Board of Trustees of the Northern Cape IDC Nguni Cattle Development Project recently held a meeting on the Main Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein. The UFS, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Department of Agriculture and Land Reform in the Northern Cape are involved with this project, which aims to develop first-time farmers into Nguni stud farmers. The project started in June 2006 and to date 11 groups of farmers have been provided with cattle and seven groups will soon be receiving their cattle. These new farmers are spread across the vast expanse of the Northern Cape - from the Botswana border in the north to Noupoort in the south. Because of its success, funding for the project has also increased dramatically. This money is used for a health programme for the cattle, to buy registered pregnant Nguni heifers and bulls and to provide some limited infrastructure on the farms. The Department of Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences at the UFS is involved with the training of the farmers. At the meeting of the Board of Trustees were, from the left: Ms Jacqui Maisela, Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Trustees and Chief Director: Agricultural Development Services of the Northern Cape Department of Agriculture and Land Reform, Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS, and Mr Tommy Mohajane, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees.
Foto: Lacea Loader

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