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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

Student from Atlanta, USA joins TIA/UFS Metagenomics Platform group
2012-09-11

Kanesha Gillyard from the USA .
11 September 2012

 The university and the Spelman College in Atlanta, USA had a joint research venture that ran from June to August 2012. We had the honour of hosting one of the students from Spelman in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. Kanesha Gillyard joined the group from the TIA/UFS Metagenomics Platform in the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology.

This was the first time that Kanesha had left Atlanta. This is what she had to say about her trip to Africa:

“I was met with a bright smile and open arms on my first day. The university staff and overall student body have embraced me. Furthermore, the Biotechnology Department has made me feel like I am family. Every day I was given the opportunity to work with a group of people dedicated to their goals, persistent regarding their purpose and fluent in speaking the many dialects of this universal language.

My first week here at the university was like walking into a whole new world.

I have learned many valuable lessons after experiencing life in South Africa for the past two and half months. From adjusting to a new environment and broadening my horizons to becoming trilingual in English, Afrikaans and the new universal language of virtue, I have grown tremendously. Being a “Kovsie” for two months and obtaining an invaluable wealth of knowledge has left me with the confidence of a winner, passion of a dreamer and heart of a nurturer. In essence, this experience has taught me the scientific method to repeat in order to reach for infinity and beyond.”
 

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