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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 talks directly to South African ambassador to Japan
2011-03-16

Direct conversation between the UFS and the South African ambassador to Japan
Photo: Gerda-Marie Viviers

During a direct conversation with the South African ambassador to Japan, Mr Gert Grobler, today, the University of the Free State (UFS) expressed its compassion and solidarity with the people of Japan. The university also stated that it intended to support the country and its citizens in various ways.

This came after Japan was plunged into chaos the past week as a result of various earthquakes and consequential disasters. Mr Grobler, who participated in the conversation via Skype from Tokyo, welcomed this talk initiative initiated by Mr Rudi Buys, Dean: Student Affairs, and the Interim Student Committee (ISC). The talks formed part of a series of initiatives launched by students to promote solidarity with Japan, and which includes fund-raising projects and awareness campaigns.

Mr Grobler expressed his appreciation for the initiative: “The initiative by the UFS is greatly appreciated, and I shall do anything to promote partnerships between the UFS and Japan, particularly in collaboration with the ambassador for Japan in South Africa. The solidarity project is essential, because this is the worst crisis Japan has ever experienced in its history.”

In solidarity with Japan, the Student Committee envisages a mass march on Thursday, 17 March 2011 by means of which students will declare their unanimity with Japan and their support of human rights.

Prof. Jonathan Jansen, UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector, also promised to send a message of support directly to the Japanese embassy in Pretoria, as well as extending a hand of support to Japanese universities in order to become part of discussions on how to render assistance, while making plans for students to visit the respective countries and share their experiences first-hand.

Mr Buys informed the ambassador that the university would support the rescue teams, which are departing for Japan in response to a request by Mr Grobler, by means of manpower.  In response to this, Mr Grobler, a Kovsie alumnus, welcomed this token of compassion and offer of assistance. “I am excited to see that South Africa cares so much for Japan.”
 

Media Release
15 March 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

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