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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

Wrongful suffering must be compensated, Prof Johann Neethling argues
2016-04-20

Description: Prof Johan Neethling, wrongful suffering must be compensated Tags: Prof Johan Neethling, wrongful suffering must be compensated

From the left are Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Caroline Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof Neethling, Prof Rita-Marie Jansen, Vice-Dean, and Dr Brand Claassen, Head of the Department of Private Law.
Photos: Stephen Collett

On 11 April, the Faculty of Law held the first of the year’s series of Prestige Lectures presented by Prof Johann Neethling, Senior Professor in the Department of Private Law.  The event was attended by senior faculty members, the Dean of Law Prof, Caroline Nicholson, and the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen.

In his opening remarks, Prof Jansen said “Prestige lectures are at the heart of a university’s academic endeavour. It would serve the university community well to present them more often, as they go to the heart of important issues that affect society”

Prof Neethling made a compelling case for compensation for wrongful suffering by a child born with impairments. Since the mid-1960s, the actions of wrongful conception and wrongful birth have been recognised in South African law. Wrongful conception is defined as when a healthy child is born as a result of failed sterilisation or abortion, and wrongful birth is when a doctor fails to inform parents of a disability before the birth of their child.

“The reality is that a child born with impairments may indeed suffer (sometimes extreme) pain, loss of amenities of life, which would justify an award of damages,” he said.

So far, the action for wrongful suffering has been dismissed by the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal. However, he highlighted several cases where wrongful conception and wrongful birth was recognised by the courts.

“Why can the same approach (for wrongful conception and wrongful birth) not be followed in wrongful suffering claims by accepting that a disabled child seeks to address the consequences of its birth?” he asked.

Prof Neethling is regarded as one of the greatest minds in Private Law, not only in South Africa but in the African continent.

A festschrift, Essays in Honour of Johann Neethling (2015), with contributions from more than 50 of his peers around the world, was also launched at the lecture.

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