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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 Rector spreads the Kovsie spirit
2010-02-12

Prof. Jonathan Jansen (middle) and UFS students Willien du Preez (far left) and Mbulelo Mpofana (far right) together with learners they met while on their tour of Eastern Cape schools.
Photo: Supplied


Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), recently joined the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences on a tour of schools in the Eastern Cape Province. Prof. Jansen sees the tour as a staggering success: “It was hard work, but a lot of fun. I can’t wait to visit other provinces and spread the true Kovsie spirit throughout South Africa.”

The tour kicked off at Aliwal North, where 36 students, parents and teachers from schools in Aliwal North were addressed.

In Queenstown they were awaited by more than a hundred people. Hoërskool Hangklip, Queen’s College Boys High, Girls High and Maria Louw Secondary School attended the function.

The evening function was hosted by Hudson Park High School. Representatives from many schools, including George Randell High School, Stirling High School and Claredon Girls High School made up the 174 people in attendance. The next morning motivational speeches were delivered at Grens Hoërskool and Stirling High School. George Randall High School also requested a visit from Prof. Jansen during the previous evening’s function.

The final function was held at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth. Hundred-and-thirty-four people from the top schools in Port Elizabeth attended the function. These included Victoria Park High School, Theodor Herzl School, Hoërskool Andrew Rabie, Alexander Road High School, Ethembeni Enrichment Centre and Nico Malan in Humansdorp.

Sadly, the tour had to end, but at least it ended on a high note. Ethembeni Enrichment Centre and Chapman’s High School were the last schools on the itinerary, but certainly not the least. The schools might not have all the resources at their disposal, but their enthusiasm and unquenchable spirit and pride were incredible.

Willien du Preez and Mbulelo Nkululeko, two students who accompanied the tour, were awed at the experience: “It was not only a privilege, but also proof that the university strives to give students wonderful learning opportunities. It also confirms our Rector’s stand: the university is not just offering students a degree, but also the opportunity to grow as humans. And that is what adds real value to our lives.”

According to Prof. Tienie Crous, Dean: Economic and Management Sciences, the tour achieved its goals, and much more: “We redeemed our university in other provinces while marketing it at the same time.”
 

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