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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

UFS council elects Nwaila and Hancke
2005-03-15

Dr Charles Nwaila, Superintendent-General of Education in the Free State, was elected Vice-chairperson of the UFS Council and Judge Faan Hancke was re-elected as Chairperson today.

According to the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Frederick Fourie, the election of Dr Nwaila is an important achievement for the UFS as Dr Nwaila is a well known leader in education in the Free State.

Dr Nwaila pledged to work constructively with the UFS council and management to ensure that the UFS benefits all people of the province and the country.

The appointments are valid for a term of three years from 1 June 2005 to 31 May 2008.

The elections took place at the quarterly meeting of the UFS Council where a number of other key transformation steps were approved.

The Council approved a Strategic Plan for the UFS which reflects a renewed focus on transformation of the institution, calling it an important roadmap for the future of the UFS.

According to Prof Fourie, the Strategic Plan tried strike a balance between continuity and change, addressing the need to remain an excellent university in an ever-changing context and environment.

Prof Fourie said transformation had many aspects and dimensions and could not be reduced to an issue of numbers.

The Strategic Plan identifies five strategic priorities and corresponding challenges in the next phase of transformation.

The priorities are:

  • quality and excellence

  • equity, diversity and redress

  • financial sustainability

  • regional co-operation and engagement.

  • outward thrust

Prof Fourie said that besides the five strategic priorities the plan also reflected concrete actions and interventions to address them.

He said the renewed focus on transformation is embedded in the priorities and specific actions that are identified.

The Council congratulated the management for the roadmap and for the achievements that have already been achieved in terms of transformation.

In order to draft a comprehensive Transformation Plan that will give substance to certain aspects of the UFS Strategic plan – or roadmap – the Council approved the establishment of a Transformation Plan Team.

The team will consist of about 16 people, which includes the two coordinators, Prof Teuns Verschoor, Vice-Rector: Academic Operations, and Dr Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: Student Affairs.

According to Prof Verschoor, the team was chosen and approved by the Executive Management earlier for the individual contributions that they could make.

While the individuals do not represent particular constituencies on campus they are a very diverse group of persons in terms of race, gender and various sections of the campus and the satellite campuses.

Prof Fourie, said there was an urgency and importance attached to the work of the Transformation Plan Team.

He said that while the team must produce a plan within a tight deadline, the task must be carried out very well, which could mean different stages in the work of the team.

According to the Rector, the UFS must take the lead in best practice transformation, while not underestimating the complexity of the issues facing the UFS.

The full list of names will be finalized soon.

MEDIA RELEASE
Issued by: Mnr Anton Fisher
Director: Strategic Communication
Cel: 072 207 8334
Tel: (051) 401-2749
11 Maart 2005

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