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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

A degree means nothing if you are not a decent human being, Vice-Chancellor tells first-years
2016-02-01

Description: Qwaqwa first-year welcoming 2016 Tags: Qwaqwa Campus

The 2016 Qwaqwa Campus first-year students received one of the warmest welcomes when the entire Rectorate and other senior UFS officials arrived to welcome them.

Leading the delegation was the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen, whose captivating message was well received by students and those parents who were in attendance.

“What keeps me going is your determination to come to the University of the Free State to start your life. You have done the right thing; do not forget that you are smarter than you think,” said Prof Jansen.

“Each one of you has a story to tell. You had to overcome poverty, disadvantage and abuse,” he said.

Prof Jansen encouraged first-year students to do more than just obtain a degree whilst at the university.

“This university is good not only in ensuring you get the best qualifications. Graduating and continuing to disrespect women is not good enough. Graduating and still continuing to be biased against gay people is not good enough. Getting a degree and still thinking you are better than others just because you have money is not good enough. A degree means nothing if you are not a decent human being,” he added.

In his welcoming message, the SRC President, Paseka Sikhosana, highlighted the importance of academic excellence that is backed by human embrace.

“Human embrace and academic excellence are two very important aspects that we strive for. Five of our members will be graduating this year whilst six are Golden Key members. And we have a very huge task of bringing our campus closer to the community and the community closer to our campus in an attempt to make a difference in those communities,” he said.

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