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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

Water Collection Campaign distributes 3 500 bottles in Free State
2016-02-19

 Description: KL News 2016 02 19 Water Tags: KL News 2016 02 19 Water
The Muslim Students Association (MSA), along with the Gift of the Givers Foundation, collected 3 500 5l bottles of water that was distributed to disadvantaged areas within the Free State. From left is Muhammed Bhamjee, President of MSA, Emily Thomas, project manager for Gift of the Givers Foundation, and Grace Jansen, one of the generous donors. Photo: Charl Devenish.

The Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the University of the Free State (UFS) took it upon themselves to respond to the regional water crisis being experienced in the Free State. Under the leadership of Muhammed Bhamjee, President of MSA, the association started an initiative to collect water for the purpose of distributing it to disadvantaged areas within the Free State.

The drive started out as just a humble request within the student community, but it gained a great deal of attention from staff, departments, and students from the UFS. The response was overwhelming; 3 500 5l bottles of water were donated.

Amongst the donors were the Student Affairs department and Grace Jansen, wife of Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS. Mrs Jansen said it was important for her to make a contribution: “Even though we are receiving, we need to give as well. Wherever there is a need, we need to be involved.” She believes the project has the ability to grow and gain more attention and support. She believes it needs to grow across communities to solve such problems together.

Bhamjee explains that the MSA has had a relationship with Gift of the Givers Foundation, as they have been running the campaign for quite some time. “We just felt that it’s our responsibility to get involved. Even with the little we can do, every bit counts at the end of the day.” He added that there is also a need to support fellow students at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus.

Emily Thomas, project manager for Gift of the Givers Foundation, applauds the MSA initiative, and encourages students to continue collaborating with the foundation to assist with disaster situations.

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