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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

Grants for three NRF chairs
2012-02-16

Research at our university got a significant boost this week with the awarding of three research chairs by the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChl) of the National Research Foundation.

The chairs were awarded in the fields of solid-state luminescent and advanced materials, higher education in human development and disease resistance in field crops. The grants for the chairs amount to R7.5 million per year for the next ten years.
 
Prof. Frans Swanepoel, Director: Research Development , says receiving these chairs in a highly competitive environment is a significant achievement. Our university received the same number of chairs as the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of the Witwatersrand.
 
The SARChl received 406 applications from 22 universities for 2011/2012. Following 25 panel meetings, 60 applicants were successful and were awarded chairs.
 
The UFS chairs will probably be in operation by September of this year.
 
Prof. Swanepoel says the SARChl’s future calls for applications will create the opportunity to increase the number of chairs at our university.

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