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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

Teaching has always been in opera singer’s genes
2016-12-26

Description: Albertus Engelbrecht Tags: Albertus Engelbrecht 

Albertus Engelbrecht believes that his predecessor
and mentor at the Odeion School of Music ,
Peet van Heerden, prepared him wonderfully for his task
as Vocals lecturer.
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen

He has captivated audiences from Berlin to Los Angeles with his singing talent for 17 years. Yet, teaching has always been in his genes, and as a child Albertus Engelbrecht dreamed about teaching music someday.

Once, when the opera singer stood on the Free State flats during his MMus studies at the University of the Free State (UFS), he knew this is where he would come.

He has been employed as Vocals lecturer at the Odeion School of Music (OSM) since 1 July 2016 and is now ploughing back his knowledge for students he believes have an incredible passion for singing that is not found even in European vocalists.

Concerts in Los Angeles stand out
Engelbrecht was a lyrical tenor at the Landestheater Niederbayern in Passau, Germany, and was working with students as well as professional singers (in Nürnberg and later Passau). However, he was bitten by the teaching bug much earlier. “When I was a student at Stellenbosch (where he obtained his BMus degree at Stellenbosch University), I discovered I had a love for vocals training,” he says.

He has performed all over Europe and worked with famous conductors such as Philipp Augin (Los Angeles Opera). “The most impressive performance was the New Year concerts in Los Angeles, and specifically the concert in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, with fantastic architecture by Frank Gehry, and housing approximately 2 260 people.”

“When I was a student at Stellenbosch, I discovered that I had a love for vocals training.”

Big boots to fill at OSM
He achieved his master’s degree magna summa Cum Laude at the UFS and received the Fanie Beetge prize for the best postgraduate student. He studied for his master’s degree under Peet van Heerden, with Dr Matildie Thom Wium as supervisor.

Following Van Heerden’s retirement, Engelbrecht had big boots to fill. “The most important thing that I learnt from him as mentor was that the instrument of a vocalist is also the body and soul of that individual – to be able to see the human standing, singing before me.”

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