Otto Ege Manuscript Event at the Kelvin Smith Library

Dr. Lisa Fagin Davis will be speaking on January 20, 2016 at 12pm at the Kelvin Smith Library about former WRU faculty member Otto Ege, famous for dismembering books.

Dr. Davis will focus on the Beauvais Missal in particular, part of which is owned by Kelvin Smith Library. Following the talk, attendees will have the opportunity to handle our fragment of the missal, as well as other “Ege leaves.”

“Picking up the Pieces: Case Western’s Otto Ege and the Beauvais Missal” by Lisa Fagin Davis

January 20, 12pm, Kelvin Smith Library Dampeer Room

The Beauvais Missal is one of the best-known victims of mid-twentieth-century American biblioclasm, serving as a perfect example of just how great a loss is incurred when a codex is dismembered and its leaves scattered. It also serves as a hopeful case study of the possibilities offered by recent developments in imaging and metadata standards, platforms, and interoperability. The manuscript was written in or near Beauvais, France, in the last quarter of the thirteenth century and was used early on at the cathedral there, as evidenced by an inscription on a lost leaf, transcribed in a 1926 Sotheby’s auction catalogue. The manuscript was purchased from Sotheby’s by American industrialist William Randolph Hearst, who owned it until 1942 when he sold it through Gimbel Brothers to New York dealer Philip Duschnes, who cut it up and began selling leaves less than one month later. He passed the remnants on to his friend and associate, Case Western professor Otto Ege, who scattered it through his usual means, by gift or sale. This paper will introduce the incipient digital reconstruction of the ninety-six known leaves of the Beauvais Missal – spread across 26 states and five countries – and present initial findings based on an analysis of the extant portion of the manuscript, focusing in particular on the leaf owned by CWRU and its place in the manuscript.

Lisa Fagin Davis received her PhD in Medieval Studies from Yale University in 1993. She has catalogued medieval manuscript collections at Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Wellesley College, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Boston Public Library, and several private collections. Her publications include: the Catalogue of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, Vol. IV (with R. G. Babcock and P. Rusche, Tempe, 2004); The Gottschalk Antiphonary (Cambridge University Press, 2000); numerous articles in the fields of manuscript studies and codicology; and the monograph, La Chronique Anonyme Universelle: Reading and Writing History in Fifteenth-Century France (a translation, critical edition and detailed study of a fifteenth-century French world chronicle, published by Brepols Publishers in 2015). Dr. Davis was a member of the EAMMS working group that established initial standards for electronic cataloguing of pre-1600 manuscript material and is currently serving on the Digital Scriptorium Bibliographic Standards Committee. With Melissa Conway, Davis is co-author of the Directory of Pre-1600 Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, published online by the Bibliographical Society of America and as Volume 109:3 of the Papers of the BSA. In addition to serving as Executive Director of the Medieval Academy of America, Lisa Fagin Davis regularly teaches an introduction to manuscript studies at the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She is the author of “The Manuscript Road Trip,” a blog devoted to promoting collections of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts in North America.

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