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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

Prof. Jansen welcomes students in Leadership Programme back on campus
2010-10-29

Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, with Lebohang Molefe, Thabiso Nkohli, Kgotso Maya and Samkelisiwe Zulu.

The Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof. Jonathan Jansen, was pleasantly surprised by what the first-year students who went to the United States on a Student Leadership Programme told him on their return.

“I am so happy that these students’ views on life in general have changed for the better in such a short period of time. This trip to the USA has certainly made a big impact on their lives. I sincerely hope that they will use the opportunities offered by the UFS to study even further,” said Prof. Jansen during his recent visit to the Qwaqwa Campus where he met with students who went on a two-week US tour earlier this month.

“The trip to various universities, like the New York University, the Cleveland State University, the Mount Holyoke College, the Cornell University, amongst others, made us to be proud South Africans. We were encouraged by the patriotic spirit displayed by American students and we are confident that UFS students, black and white, can start spreading that to the entire country,” said Kgotso Maya, a BA student majoring in Sociology.

The five students were part of the leadership programme exclusively designed for first-year students.

 

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