While some manuscript fragments result from accidental damage, others are the result of purposeful destruction of a medieval book.The precise manner in which each manuscript fragment came to be is a fascinating tale, often stretching over decades or even centuries. Sometimes these histories cannot be fully reconstructed, but all manuscript fragments bear indelible marks that point to their many uses and reuses in codices, libraries, sales catalogues, and holding institutions. As such, fragments can be read as networks that help modern researchers to reconstruct the scribal, reader, and owner communities who used these manuscripts.
This session invites reflection on one particular community and its network of medieval manuscript fragments: the book-breakers of the early 20th century, for whom Otto F. Ege stands as the most notorious exemplum. As Ege's personal manuscript collection has just become available for study, this session hopes to bring new information about his work to light. Papers might discuss Ege's book-breaking and sales practices, new discoveries of Ege leaves and cuttings, the reconstitution of broken books, the market for medieval manuscripts, digital tools for the reconstruction of fragmented texts and manuscripts, and American fragment collections.