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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

Offender learners get unique opportunity
2016-08-02

Description: Mandela Day Project  Tags: Mandela Day Project

Subashini Moodley, Regional Commissioner Northern Cape
and Free State.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

Nelson Mandela spoke of education as the tool of liberation. Kamogelo Dithebe, Chairperson of the Postgraduate Student Council (PGSC), opened the PGSC’s Mandela Day Project with these striking words.

The PGSC at the University of the Free State (UFS) hosted the Tswelopele Correctional Service Centre Career Day for their annual Mandela Day project on the Bloemfontein Campus on 27 July 2016. Grade 11 and 12 learner offenders from the Kimberley-based centre were given a tour of the campus.

Visitors empowered with knowledge

Subashini Moodley, Free State and Northern Cape Regional Commissioner, said: “It is really a privilege to be here today. It is not every day you see a Correctional Centre roaming around campus.” She thanked the postgraduate council for making the opportunity possible, as it was the first open day for the offender-learners in collaboration with the PGSC.

She told the offender-learners that they were privileged to be given the opportunity as many learners in a normal school environment often come to university not knowing what to expect or what to study. She said they should empower themselves with knowledge as they met with the different faculties.

Tour encourages and change lives

Mthulisi Zandile, a Grade 12 offender learner, was very excited to learn about the career options available after completing a university degree. “It means a lot to us as it will further our education, and bring change in our life, as this will show me the right route to pass matric with flying colours,” said Mthulisi.

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