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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

Professor Antjie Krog to deliver public lecture at UFS Bloemfontein Campus
2015-06-19

Professor Antjie Krog – illustrious author, poet, and academic – will deliver a public lecture at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus. The topic of her discussion will be ‘They Couldn’t Achieve their Goal with Me: Narrating Rape during the South African War’.

Prof Krog’s lecture will be the third instalment of the Vice-Chancellor’s Lecture Series on Trauma, Memory and Representations of the Past. The lecture series is hosted by Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies at the UFS, as part of a five-year research project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Details of the event:

Date: Tuesday 23 June 2015
Time: 12:00
Venue: Albert Wessels Auditorium, UFS Bloemfontein Campus
Members of the public are welcome to attend
RSVP to Jo-Anne Naidoo: NaidooJA@ufs.ac.za

Acts of rape during South African War

To set the context of her lecture, Prof Krog explains that, about two months before the South African War officially ended on 31 May 1902, affidavits were taken from women about transgressions experienced at the hands of British soldiers. These acts included plunder, killing of stock, abduction, sexual assault, and rape. Her lecture is the first scholarly focus in terms of narrative and agency on the affidavits of 24 incidents of sexual assaults and rape since the 25-year embargo on these documents was lifted in 1982. The shelving of these affidavits is indicative of how even transcultural multiple processes failed to create an honest discourse in post-colonial South Africa about sexual violence.

Paving the way to healing historical wounds

The series focuses on the portrayal of trauma and memory in multiple ways – such as the narrative arts represented by Prof Krog. These forms of expression may ultimately pave the way to healing historical wounds.

“This topic is very timely, given a recent NRF grant we’ve been awarded for research on transgenerational trauma related to the South African war,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela says in anticipation of the lecture.

Previous instalments of Vice-Chancellor’s Lecture Series

The first instalment of the Vice-Chancellor’s Lecture Series on Trauma, Memory and Representations of the Past was delivered by former Constitutional Court Judge, Albie Sachs, in which he discussed ‘Sites of memory, sites of conscience’. Internationally acclaimed composer and sound artist, Philip Miller, delivered the second lecture, ‘Disrupting the Silence: The Past and Transnational Memory’.


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