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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

UFS lays criminal charges against students
2008-02-28

Statement by Mr Anton Fisher, Director: Strategic Communication at the University of the Free State (UFS)

The management of the University of the Free State (UFS) has today instructed its attorneys to formulate criminal charges against four students who were involved in the production of an extremely offensive and racist video.

This follows other action taken late yesterday to prohibit two of the four students from the Reitz men’s residence from the campus. The other two students who can be seen in the video have since completed their studies and are no longer on campus.

Further steps are in the pipeline as the internal disciplinary procedure of the university must also take its course.

The Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Frederick Fourie, has condemned the video and the gross violation of human rights that it portrays and has promised to deal swiftly and firmly with this matter.

This morning Prof. Fourie met personally with the workers who were tricked into taking part in the video and apologised to them face to face. Counselling is being arranged for the workers.

The management has also suspended lectures today in a proactive step to allow the emotions of staff and students to calm down. Lectures will resume tomorrow (Thursday 28 February 2008).

This follows a protest march earlier today against the extremely offensive and racist video which shows white students staging a mock “integration” of black workers in the residence.

After the march the management received memoranda from student organisations and two trade unions, NEHAWU and UVPERSU, about the video.

The students and the unions have made certain demands that the management will consider and respond to as soon as possible.

While the march proceeded peacefully, there have been sporadic incidents of intimidation and damage to property. Five students were arrested.

Prof. Fourie has appealed to students to act in solidarity with the management against the scourge of racism and to support the UFS in its policy to integrate student residences.


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  
27 February 2008
 

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