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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 strengthens ties with Mexican university
2010-05-11

 At the First Joint Subcommittee on Technical, Scientific and Technological Co-operation were, from left: Prof. Nahum Marban-Mendoza, Chairperson of the Department of Agroparasitology, UACH; Dr Gisela Pena-Ortega, Director of the Office for International Affairs and Academic Exchange, UACH; Prof. Wijnand Swart, Director of UFS Strategic Academic Cluster 4: Technologies for Crop Industries in Semi-arid regions; and Dr Victor Pinto, Department of Parasitology, UACH.
Photo: Mercedes Cuenca


In 2006, the University of the Free State (UFS) signed an institutional agreement with the Autonomous University of Chapingo (UACH) in Mexico. This made the UFS the first South African academic institution to establish scientific relations with Mexico.

It was for this reason that Prof. Wijnand Swart, Director of the UFS Strategic Academic Cluster 4: Technologies for Crop Industries in Semi-arid regions, was invited to participate in the First Joint Subcommittee on Technical, Scientific and Technological Cooperation held recently in Mexico City. During his visit, Prof. Swart secured the working relationship between the UFS and the UACH.

During the first meeting of the Mexico-South Africa Bi-national Commission, the Mexican Foreign Secretary and Minister of Foreign Affairs and South African Minister for International Relations and Cooperation signed a joint statement. The statement, “Mexico and South Africa: Towards a Priority Relationship”, together with a Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement, will lay the foundations for monitoring existing collaboration and promote new actions between institutions in Mexico and South Africa.

Prof. Swart spent the remainder of his stay in Mexico presenting lectures to staff and students at the UACH on integrated pest management and challenges facing South African agriculture. He also engaged in discussions with Dr Gisela Pena-Ortega, Director of the UACH Office for International Affairs and Academic Exchange, about the establishment of a staff and student exchange programme with the UFS.
 

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