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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

First-years at South Campus step into a bright future
2015-02-05

Photo: Stefan Lotter

This is the first step to a bright future.

This was the resounding message that welcomed first-year students to the South Campus. “Remember,” Tshegofatso Setilo, Manager of the University Preparation Programme said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” But please do not get discouraged on your way, she urged, because “this is your first step to a bright future.

In his welcoming message, Prof Nicky Morgan, Vice-Rector: Operations at the UFS referred to the South Campus as the giant of the south. “This is one of the trailblazing campuses of the university,” he said. “No doubt what you’ll experience on this campus, you’ll never forget.”

This year, the South Campus boasts with 1 200 first-year students taking part in our University Preparation and Extended Programmes. These programmes allow students – whose matric marks did not reach the required total – the opportunity to study at the University of the Free State (UFS). The result? An astounding rise in pass rates. Some of the students on the South Campus outperform their peers studying at the Bloemfontein Campus, Prof Morgan remarked.

“You’ve got it in yourself. You’ve got the potential to unleash yourself on the world,” Prof Morgan said. You do not always realise the value of something that has come your way, he said. So, every moment you get an opportunity, he advised, use it to shape your future.

Addressing the newcomers’ fears, Prof Morgan urged each student to open themselves to the good and new experiences waiting for them. “When you find yourself in a new space, it always begins with you,” he said. Learn to understand how to live in harmony in different spaces.

Prof Morgan placed great emphasis on his closing remark: “At university, the more questions you seek to have answered – they’re worth more than the answers you have.”

 

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