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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

Charity indeed begins at home
2016-02-19

Description: KL News 2016 02 19 Rag Queen Tags: KL News 2016 02 19 Rag Queen
The winning duo: Stefan Lotter and Marzel van Zyl after being crowned Mr RAG and RAG Queen at the Brutal Fruit Coronation Ball. Photo: Sarel Greyling

Stefan Lotter and Marzel van Zyl were crowned Mr RAG and RAG Queen at the prestigious Brutal Fruit RAG Coronation Ball on 12 February 2016. For the last 10 months, these University of the Free State (UFS) students have been collecting funds for community projects in the Free State.

Capitalise on existing platforms

Although they are patrons of charitable organisations external to the university, Stefan and Marzel revised their strategy to prioritise the UFS. “Some students on campus struggle, and, because charity begins at home, we will try to help the No Student Hungry and Right to Learn campaigns,” said Stefan.

However, he will continue to support the Northern Free State Caregivers, a 24-hour nursing service for terminally ill patients, for which he collected R15 000. For her part, Marzel was able to collect more than R20 000 for the Free State Residential Care Centre, which houses mentally challenged adults, and also hosts a skills development programme. The Centre’s baking workshop had to discontinue due to a lack of funding, but Marzel hopes that her contributions will bring about its revival and sustenance.

Bringing home the money

The winning duo are expected to represent our university at Mr & Miss SA Campus South Africa 2016.  According to Stefan, they plan “to push the RAG agenda there and bring money back home,” at this charity-based pageant.

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