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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

An article, co-authored by Kovsies’ own Miss World, Rolene Strauss, was published recently in a medical journal
2015-02-23

Rolene Strauss

The article, which deals with research on the incidence of multiple losses by children, was published in South African Family Practice.

The study was part of the third-year research project for medical students in our Faculty of Health Sciences. Rolene worked with fellow students, Leischen Branders, Mirandie Claassen, Darienne Saaiman, and Andrea van Staden. Prof Gina Joubert from the UFS’s Department of Biostatistics and Prof Hanneke Brits were the module and study leaders.

In this study, a number of cases involving Bloemfontein children experiencing loss, as well as their reaction to it, were examined.

They divided the incidents into categories in order to address the broad definition of ‘losses’.

Approximately 69% of the children in the study have experienced three or more instances of loss in their lives. About 29% of the children have experienced loss in the category Personal Loss (assault, chronic and terminal illness, amputation, malnutrition, disability, abortion, and miscarriage). The greatest number of losses occurred in the category Interpersonal Loss (87%). This group of children has had to deal with the death of one or more parents/caregivers, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, divorce, homelessness, and instability. In the category, Environmental Loss, xenophobia, unsafe living conditions, inadequate support, poverty, and unemployment were looked at. A total of 82% of the children in the group have experienced losses.

Prof Hanneke Brits, study leader of the group, says the extent of multiple losses by children is a topic that hasn’t been investigated widely.

“The study shows that children should receive special attention in order to help them process the trauma. Supportive care and inter-professional services play a major role in this regard.”

 

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