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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

UFS provides sign language skills to locals
2016-02-12

Description: UFS provides sign language skills to locals  Tags: Sign language

Susan Lombaard teaching at one of the sessions
Photo: Valentino Ndaba

The public and private sectors are becoming more aware of the need for effective communication between employers, employees, and clients who use Sign Language. Given that Sign Language is the first language of approximately 600 000 people in South Africa, competence in the language means taking the first step towards more inclusive service delivery.
 
Shout Out Loud - a project that promotes Sign Language - has signed up Bloemfontein Celtics, Centlec, Beyond Boundaries, and the Mangaung Municipality on a Basic South African Sign Language course at the University of the Free State.
 
No miscommunication
 
Susan Lombaard, the Acting Head at the Department of South African Sign Language, was one of the lecturers who presented the 40-hour accredited course every Friday from 15 January-12 February 2016. Other lecturers who were responsible for training were Emily Matabane and Tshisikhawe Dzhivani.
 
Lombaard believes that learning Sign Language bridges the gap between the hearing and those who have impairments. “The benefit is that there will be no miscommunication. It happens that a deaf person walks into a bank or municipality offices and there is no communication. They need to write which is humiliating for that person.”
 
Towards a promising future
 
According to Goodwill Mokoena, Project Manager at Beyond Boundaries, the project will continue annually, and a larger intake of government departments and non-governmental organisations is expected in 2016.He also indicated that Shout Out Loud has achieved substantial success in its involvement with the Bartimea School for the Blind and Deaf.

Shout Out Loud selects one pupil every month, and flies them to Johannesburg to interpret on Bloemfontein Celtics’ magazine show. It is the only magazine show in South Africa that has a sign language interpreter. “The school has been achieving 100% in matric results because the pupils are selected on merit. This has enhanced their academic performance in such a marvelous way,” said Mokoena.

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