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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

Khayalami residence launches first in-house library
2016-04-21

Description: 2016 KL News Khayalami library  Tags: Khayalami residence launches first in-house library in the country
Bongani Mtotoba (left) and Sinoxolo Gcilitshana (right) at the first-ever 24 hour in-house library at Khayalami residence. The librarian and Deputy Residence Head respectively hope to revive the culture of reading on our Bloemfontein Campus.
Photo: Valentino Ndaba

“It is said that reading means to the brain what exercise means to the body. For that reason, we want to bring back the culture of reading to our students who are, after all, the future replacement of the leadership of our wounded and broken country,” said Sinoxolo Gcilitshana, Deputy Residence Head, and Prime of Khayalami.

Titles such as A Life Ever Lasting by Miranda Hearn, To Live Free by William Wilberforce, Powers of Darkness Powers of Light by John Cornwell, and Character Counts by Charles Dyer are among the 228 inspirational books on the shelves of Khayalami residence’s library. Tuesday 12 April 2016 was a proud moment for the residence as it launched the first library in the country located within a university residence on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State.

Last year, Dimpho Jasa, a resident at Khayalami, approached Sinoxolo, who then held the Residence Committee (RC): Academics portfolio, with an idea of forming a book club. Sinoxolo had suggested that a library be established in order to make the book club sustainable. That conversation served as a foundation of the 24 hour in-house library.

“We started with five books last year,” said Sinoxolo, “and ever since we sent the message out, the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen has been supporting us together with the Vice-Rector, Prof Nicky Morgan, as well as the Dean of the Faculty of Education, Prof Sechaba Mahlomaholo, and the Head of the Department of English, Prof Helene Strauss.”  

Now, more than 170 young men have access to a growing library that is expected to hold 1500 books by September, when Sinoxolo steps down as the Prime. According to Bongani Mtotoba, the RC: Academics and librarian, some residents have made pledges to help expand the collection. “The response has been quite positive from the guys,” he said.

Borrowers are required to submit a book review upon returning the book. This feedback will be compiled by the English Department into a book available to the public.

Khayalami’s pioneering spirit has also seen the residence run a successful writing competition in 2015. It has since been introduced to the rest of the East College, and now will take place annually.  

For more information on how to donate books or enter the writing completion, contact Sinoxolo on 0783332203 or semsinoxolo@hotmail.com.

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