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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

Situation on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus under control after further disruptions
2016-02-23

State of our campuses #8

Further disruptions occurred on the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS today after clashes between students on the campus last night. Members of the Public Order Policing had to disperse some students and the situation was stabilised in the early hours of the morning. No one was arrested and no major injuries occurred.

The clashes erupted last night after a group of protesters moved on to the field and disrupted a Varsity Cup rugby match that was already under way between the FNB Shimlas and the FNB Madibaz at Xerox Shimla Park. Subsequently the protesters were assaulted by some spectators who also ran on to the field.

Disruption continued this morning when students damaged some university property. Additional reinforcements from the South African Police Service were brought in to stabilise the campus. Some outsourced contract workers and students are still demonstrating outside the Main Gate of the campus on Nelson Mandela Avenue. The campus is relatively calm now and matters are under control.
The safety of students in residences on campus is the major concern for the senior leadership of the university and extra care is being taken to ensure their safety. In one case a residence had to be vacated and alternative accommodation was arranged for the students. The situation is under control in other residences. 

The Bloemfontein and South Campuses are closed from 23 to 24 February 2016 and no academic and administrative services are available.

Members of the university’s Protection Services and the South African Police Service are on the Bloemfontein Campus and are monitoring the situation closely.

A comprehensive investigation about the course of events that took place on the Bloemfontein Campus since yesterday morning continues.

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