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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

Investec guest speaker exhorts South Campus students to ‘give it their all’
2017-02-16

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Video clip
Photo Gallery

The South Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) recently welcomed new first-year and returning senior students during an event in the Madiba Arena. This year marks another highlight for the campus, with the accommodation of 252 students in a brand-new residence named Legae (meaning “Home”) on the property.

Prof Daniella Coetzee, Campus Principal, reminded the gathered students, “You are a fully-fledged Kovsie, and this is the first day of the rest of your life. You are now going to really work on your dreams.”

She went on to relate the life story of Albert Einstein, renowned physicist, making the point, “When you work, when you persist, when you take it one day at a time, you never lose sight of your dreams, and you will reach your dreams. I can promise you one thing, dear Kovsies, that if you work hard, plan hard, and you put your mind to it, it will definitely be worthwhile.”

Setlogane Manchidi, Head of Investec’s Corporate Social Investments division and guest speaker, told his colourful life story and academic journey. He described his ‘a-ha moment’ in high school, “when the penny dropped and everything started making sense” on a visit to his mother’s employer in Johannesburg, after going to the cinema to watch a movie: “This is the life I want to live.”

Description: 'South Campus Opening Tags: South Campus, Opening
Andrew Tlou, Investec Social Investment; Carol Bunn,
UFS Institutional Advancement; Setlogane Manchidi,
Head of Investec’s Corporate Social Investments division;
Tshegofatso Setilo, UAP Programmes Manager; and
Francois Marais, Director: Access Programmes,
at the South Campus opening and orientation day.
Photo: Eugene Seegers


This led to a new resolve in his scholastic efforts at the rural school back home in Ga-Phahla, Limpopo, and he started studying over weekends and by candlelight at night. Mr Manchidi shared this lesson with the students, “At that point, I lost my so-called ‘friends.’ I learnt this: Peer pressure is real. If you want to deal with peer pressure, surround yourself with the right peers! Surround yourself with people who have your best interests at heart. Surround yourself with people who will not turn you back from your path.” He later succeeded in obtaining a bursary to study at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Mr Manchidi concluded by exhorting students to aspire to greatness, “Every time you settle for what is expected, you rob yourself of the opportunity to prove yourself out of the ordinary. Choose to exceed expectations. Give it your all!”

 

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