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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

Prof Naomi Morgan knighted by French Government
2015-02-02

Prof Naomi Morgan

Prof Naomi Morgan, lecturer at the UFS Department of Afrikaans and Dutch; German and French, received the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres award at the French Embassy in Pretoria on Monday 26 January 2015.

The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) is an Order of France, established on 2 May 1957 by the Minister of Culture, and its supplementary status to the Ordre national du Mérite was confirmed by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Its purpose is the recognition of significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields.

Prof Morgan is being recognised for her translation work of plays such as ‘Oskar en die Pienk Tannies’, as well as translations of Afrikaans songs to French for the popular Afri-Frans compilation. The fact that the French Government gives such a highly-acclaimed award in recognition to the ‘art of translation’ is even more of an overwhelming honour to her than the personal achievement in itself.

The Chevalier (the Knighting) awarded to Prof Morgan is the third highest grade in the Order.

Prof Morgan now joins world-renowned individuals such as William Kentridge and Johnny Clegg on the list of foreign luminaries who have received this honour. Only two Literature Professors from South Africa – JM Coetzee and André P Brink – received this award in the past. During 1992, Brink received a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Coetzee was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

“I feel that an award like this is not only significant for me, but also to students who are busy with their studies and wondering: is there going to be recognition, what can one do with translation?” Prof Morgan said. “This is the biggest gift, the biggest gift anyone could ever give me. Now I ask for nothing more!”

For more information or enquiries contact news@ufs.ac.za .

 

 

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