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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

Statement by the senior leadership of the University of the Free State
2016-02-29

Statement by the senior leadership of the University of the Free State regarding the situation on the Bloemfontein Campus 

All academic and administrative activities on the Bloemfontein and South Campuses of the University of the Free State (UFS) resume on Monday 29 February 2016.

In light of the recent incidents on the Bloemfontein Campus, the university leadership would like to address the understandable concerns of students, staff and the general public. The university obviously respects the rights of individuals to freedom of speech and expression, but notes that these rights are subject to reasonable limitation, and cannot extend to justifying criminal acts.

The Bloemfontein Campus is secure and security measures have been doubled up to ensure the safety of students, staff and public property. The court interdict is in place and will be enacted if required. Unlawful disruptions, including those involving criminal conduct, will not be tolerated.

The university strongly condemns the unlawful and unacceptable conduct by students, protesting outsourced workers, and visitors to its campus during the past week, and in particular the assault on protestors at Xerox Shimla Park on Monday 22 February 2016 during a Varsity Cup rugby match between the FNB Shimlas and FNB Madibaz. The university has started a comprehensive and independent investigation into criminal activities on this campus before, during and after the Xerox Shimla Park events.

The university regrets the destruction of public property and the intimidation of staff and students which led to the shutdown of academic and administrative activities on the Bloemfontein Campus. Extensive investigations are underway to identify the perpetrators who took part in all incidents of disruption and criminal conduct, and urgent steps will be taken against such individuals or organisations in due course.

The university leadership remains deeply concerned about a dangerous and damaging allegation that a lecturer was identified on a widely circulated photograph while assaulting a protestor at the Varsity Cup rugby match on Monday 22 February 2016. The university diligently investigated this allegation and found it to be false; the individual is NOT a member of the UFS staff. A suspect was however identified and evidence handed over to the South African Police Services (SAPS) for urgent action.

It has further come to the attention of the university management that a number of individuals and organisations continue to make blatantly false and defamatory statements on social media platforms with the intention of inciting criminal conduct, threatening individuals, and spreading fear within the university community in order to unsettle the campus. Investigations are at an advanced stage to prosecute individuals and groups involved in such criminal conduct in the social media; both those who post these statements and those who repost or retweet them, are liable under the law.

Should you wish to confirm whether there is any truth attached to a circulated rumour or allegation, please call +27(0)51 401 2911, +27(0)51 401 2634 or send an email to news@ufs.ac.za. Legal steps will be taken against individuals and organisations that persist in circulating such misleading and damaging statements.
    
The UFS urges all individuals who are in possession of evidence or knowledge of any crimes that have been committed on the Bloemfontein Campus in the past week, to come forward with such evidence and information and to call the numbers indicated above or to send an email to news@ufs.ac.za. Any individuals who are in possession of video footage and photographs of the incidents at Xerox Shimla Park, the Equitas Building (formerly known as the CR Swart Building), Thakaneng Bridge, various residences, the Main Building and the grounds in front of the building, are requested to provide such evidence in order to assist with the identification of those involved in criminal acts.

The university leadership remains committed to its duty to act in the best interests of its students and staff and calls on its community and the public to act peacefully at all times and respect the rights of others.

Issued by: Lacea Loader
(Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Email: news@ufs.ac.za

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