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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 Luyt says young researchers should not allow circumstances to determine their future
2016-02-01

Description: Prof Riaan Luyt Tags: Prof Riaan Luyt

Prof Riaan Luyt, an NRF B-rated researcher
Photo: Supplied

Young researchers, who spend their life at a disadvantaged and rural campus like the University of the Free State’s Qwaqwa Campus, should not be deterred from achieving their dreams.

This is the view of Prof Riaan Luyt, former Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, who achieved his B-rating by the National Research Foundation (NRF) late in 2015. This was by far the highest-ever rating on the Qwaqwa Campus.

“When I moved to the Qwaqwa Campus many years ago, having had the opportunity to do a post-doctoral fellowship in Polymer Science at the Leeds University in the United Kingdom, I was determined to get the Department of Chemistry off the ground, and to embark on serious research,” said Prof Luyt, who is now the Affiliated Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Research Associate Professor at the Centre for Advanced Materials, based at Qatar University.

“It was through sheer determination that I managed to obtain enough funds to equip a decent research laboratory. There were many obstacles over the years, but I managed to attract more and more postgraduate students and published more,” he said.

At first, Prof Luyt was not successful with his NRF-rating applications.

“My first couple of attempts to get rated produced no success. I was then awarded a C3-rating, which was later followed by C2 and then C1,” he added. “Getting a B-rating is the highlight of my research career. It shows that it can be done. Young researchers should not allow their past or present circumstances, or their work environment to stand on their way,” said Prof Luyt, who has supervised 38 master’s and doctoral students as well as 11 postdoctoral fellows. He has also published 185 papers in international and accredited journals.

Although abroad, Prof Luyt will continue to supervise eight postgraduate students at the Qwaqwa Campus.

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