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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

University helps design new test of academic literacy for postgraduates
2012-09-04

The Inter-institutional Centre for Language Development and Assessment (ICELDA), of which the University of the Free State (UFS) is a founding partner, has secured a joint agreement with the Language Centre at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands to design and develop another test of academic literacy for postgraduate students.

ICELDA is a partnership between four multilingual South African universities: Pretoria, Stellenbosch, North-West and Free State.

This design that ICELDA is coming up with will focus mainly on diagnostic purposes and follow in the footsteps of TALPS, the current test of academic literacy for postgraduate students at the four universities.

Prof. Albert Weideman, Head of the Department of English says TALPS has recently been the topic of a redesign and in-depth analysis undertaken by Colleen du Plessis, a junior lecturer in the Department of English for her master's dissertation. She is developing two further versions of it for ICELDA and the new project will involve Rebecca Patterson, who will do her long assignment for honours on the diagnostic value of the current test. A former doctoral student of the Department English Tobie van Dyk will be the project leader.

“The rationale for the project is that one can no longer take the academic literacy levels of postgraduate students for granted. We wish the investigating and development team that Tobie will put together, every success.”
 

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