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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

Kovsie students part of exclusive Stanford Sophomore College Programme
2012-09-14

Kovsie students Foster Lubbe (far right at the back) and Palesa Mafisa (middle front) interacting with students from Stanford University.
14 September 2012

The six students, Elri Marais, Palesa Mafisa, Goodwill Shelile, Foster Lubbe, Gabriella Schroder and Saheed Abdullah, are part of the Stanford Sophomore College Programme, a residential summer programme for second-year students. They have been at Stanford since the beginning of this month, engaging in intense academic exploration with peers and professors on a variety of innovative, multidisciplinary topics.

Writing about his experiences in San Francisco, Foster Lubbe said it has been a wonderful experience thus far. “The classes are very interactive. It is amazing to see how effectively students and lecturers make use of technological tools, especially the speedy Internet, during class,” he wrote.

Foster and Palesa have been doing a course on “Mixed Race in the New Millennium, Elri and Abdullah on, “The Meaning of Life, and Gabriella and Goodwill a course on “Ghost stories”. Highlights for the students have been a discussion with New York Times journalist, Susan Saulny, a visit to the Stanford Centre of Marine Biology and for Gabriella and Goodwill a San Francisco ghost tour.

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