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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

SAMWOP creates space for sharing research
2016-12-06

Description: SAMWOP Tags: SAMWOP 

Dr Kristina Riedel, Head of the UFS Department of
Linguistics and Language Practice; middle:
Prof Nancy Kula, of the University of Essex; back:
from left, Dr Elias Malete, lecturer at the UFS
Department of Linguistics and Language Practice,
Prof Andy Chebanne, from the University of Botswana;
and Lesoetsa Motsamai, from the University of Stellenbosch,
at the SAMWOP workshop on 24 November 2016.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

“The Southern African Microlinguistics Workshop (SAMWOP) creates space for sharing the latest research, networking and building stronger collaboration amongst linguists.”

This is what Dr Kristina Riedel, Head of the Department of Linguistics and Language Practice at the University of the Free State (UFS), said of the 5th SAMWOP hosted by her department. The workshop, hosted from 24 to 26 November 2016, also provided linguists who work on theory and language description in South Africa, the opportunity to network. “As a free conference it is very important, particularly for students and junior scholars.”

International delegates attend workshop

Participants at the workshop were from eight countries including the US, Botswana, Mozambique, Brazil and the UK. Prof Nancy Kula (University of Essex, UK), who was recently appointed as research associate to the department, presented jointly with Xiaoxi Liu, work on depressor effects (consonants which lower tones) in Bantu languages. Other presenters discussed Bantu languages, Khoisan languages and Afrikaans.

Microlinguistics analyses language and sound

“Microlinguistics focuses on analysing language data that deals with language sounds, structures and meaning, rather than language in society,” Dr Riedel said. “The range and diversity of the research on African languages presented at SAMWOP5 were a true highlight. There is a need for more research into African languages and SAMWOP presents the opportunity to scholars in the field to share their work, including in the accredited open-access proceedings.

“We are happy that we were able to hold a very successful and well-attended workshop despite the disruptions to the academic calendar this year,” the professor said.

The Linguistics Society of Southern Africa supported the cause in the form of a grant with additional support from the Office of Dean of Humanities at the UFS.

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