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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

Church Mirror 2010 kicks off from the Free State
2010-10-04

Prof. Kobus Schoeman

 Prof. Kobus Schoeman, Head of the Department of Practical Theology at the University of the Free State (UFS), is one of the project leaders of Church Mirror, a unique research project in the family of Dutch Reformed Churches in South Africa.

Over the years Church Mirror has been established as an important source of information for the Dutch Reformed Church. The church is provided with information by means of surveys that assist in reflection on the church as well as congregations’ role and functioning.

The 2010 survey will be no exception. The survey is conducted on the instruction of the General Synod and in collaboration with the Department of Practical Theology at the UFS. This year, the project is also extended to other churches in the Dutch Reformed Church family for the first time.

The questionnaire forms part of the National Church Life Survey, which is done internationally. The questionnaire is completed by everybody who attends a church service on a specific Sunday. Questions that are asked include, “What do the members of the congregation think of their congregation and church services?”, “Are outsiders welcome?” and “Do we care about the community?”

The first survey was done amongst churchgoers at a service in 2006.

Church Mirror is an important research project to outline the profile of mainstream churches in South Africa and it can play a major role in congregations’ planning and reflection upon themselves.
 

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