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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

Lithium-ion batteries research set to improve ordinary lives
2016-02-11

Description: Dr Lehlohonolo Koao  Tags: Dr Lehlohonolo Koao

Dr Koao is making a much-needed contribution in improving lives of ordinary people through his research on lithium-ion batteries.

The future of relevant and top-notch scientific research at the Qwaqwa Campus is in good hands. Dr Lehlohonolo Koao is one of the five members of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) on the Qwaqwa Campus.

The need to improve the efficiency of heating mechanisms in his immediate community in Qwaqwa, and the support he receives from the PSP, have become catalysts for his current research project on lithium-ion batteries. According to Dr Koao, the study will focus on producing batteries that last longer, store more energy, are cheaper to manufacture, and are environmentally friendly when being disposed of. These are key factors in solar energy.

‘’The majority of households in my neighbourhood have benefited from the government’s project of providing households with solar panels to help with lighting, cooking, and heating without worrying about the ever-increasing electricity costs,’’ said Dr Koao.

‘’Since my arrival in the area, I have realized that the heat absorption rate of the batteries used by solar panels is not enough. As a result, these batteries also lack enough power to sustain the supply throughout the day, especially on a cloudy day,’’ he said.

His research project focuses on improving the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries that are now commonly used in portable electronics, such as cell phones and laptops. This kind of battery is rapidly replacing the usual lead-acid batteries. Dr Koao’s determination to contribute towards a safer and more efficient heating absorption system has made him move away completely from his PhD study on lighting material.

‘’My previous study was on reducing the power usage on domestic and industrial lights as they use more electricity. This study, on the other hand, will enhance power retention in the batteries for improved daily life since cell phones, solar panels, and laptops, to mention only a few, are now a way of life,’’ he added.

Dr Koao is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics, where he specializes in solid state materials.

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