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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

Kovsies salute its Guinness World Record Holder
2012-02-03

 

Volksblad journalist Christal-Liza Thomas interviewed Hermann van Heerden.
Photo: Amanda Tongha


He had to wait three months for the Guinness World Record office to verify his world-record attempt but it is now official. Kovsie-student Hermann van Heerden is a Guinness World Record holder.

On 01 February 2012 the B.Ed. Kovsie student proudly showed his certificate to Prof. Jonathan Jansen and others at the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). In October 2011 Hermann, who was born with spina bifida, a developmental congenital disorder, wheeled himself into the record books by holding a stationary wheelie in his wheelchair for 10 hours and 1 second.

He achieved this record as part of celebrations marking a decade of existence for the Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD) at the UFS.

With the support of his fellow Kovsies, Hermann embarked on his record attempt on 11 October last year. He started at 03:15 and held his wheelie until 13:16.

The minimum time set for Hermann to achieve a Guinness World Record was four hours and he bettered this by six hours. During his attempt, the Kovsie student did not have any food or water and was not allowed a bathroom break.

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