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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

Video made by a student residence
2008-02-27

Statement by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof. Frederick Fourie

A video, made by residents of the Reitz men’s residence on the Main Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein, surfaced this morning (Tuesday, 26 February 2008) and was brought to my attention.

The Executive Management (EM) of the UFS condemns this video in the strongest possible terms as a gross violation of the human dignity of the workers involved.

We have immediately started with a most urgent investigation into this matter. The students involved have been identified and we are going to take steps to suspend them.

We are also going to lay criminal charges with the South African Police Service against the students concerned.

I am deeply saddened that students apparently see nothing wrong in producing such an offensive and degrading video. I have publicly said several times that the UFS is not a place for racism.

The UFS does not want such actions and people who indulge in it, on our campus.

The fact that it is openly linked to the integration process in UFS residences is also most disturbing.

I want to apologise to our colleagues who were unwittingly involved in this video and to the broader South African public.

Our staff unions Nehawu and Uvpersu have also condemned this incident.

The university is going through a difficult time with its efforts to racially integrate its residences and to create a new residence culture based on diversity, respect, human dignity and human rights.

These kinds of actions make it all the more important that we succeed with establishing such a new institutional culture on the campus.

I appeal to all staff and students to remain calm and to act in the best interests of the university.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
26 February 2008

 

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