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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

Afrikaans place names were not only given by Afrikaner people, says professor.
2012-09-25

Prof. Peter Raper delivering his lecture on South African place names.
25 September 2012

 Prof. Peter Raper, honorary professor at the Department of Linguistics and Language Practice, delivered a public lecture in Clarens earlier this month. The theme of the lecture was “From Stone Age to GPS: The fourth edition of the South African Place Names Dictionary”.

Prof. Raper shared the historical development of the project as well as the challenges and other interesting observations associated with the topic. He elaborated on the dramatic change in the focus of his research on place names in South Africa.

It was previously assumed that all of the Afrikaans place names were given by the Afrikaner people and that changing these place names was consistent with the mandate of the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC) to transform place names. Prof. Raper said more in-depth research revealed that a significant number of place names are actually translations of original San names – into Afrikaans, Khoi and the Bantu languages. He told the audience that given the constitutional stipulation that no cultural group’s heritage may be removed, this discovery calls into the question the modus operandi of the SAGNC.

Prof. Raper’s lecture was part of the conference programme of the Third International MIDP IV Symposium that took place on the Qwaqwa campus. The MIDP (Multilingual Information Development Programme) is a project sponsored by the Province of Antwerp. The theme for this year’s symposium was “Multilingualism for Empowerment” and was presented in collaboration with the University of Antwerp.

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