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The whole William Shakespeare thing is a sham.
Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, was the real man behind the quill.
Lump this in with Richard Hardin's group of theories, student papers or correspondence so far off the academic beaten path that they bear repeating. Sometimes called "crackpot files," they often leave professors chuckling - or scratching their heads.
However, the theory that Shakespeare didn't write his works has garnered so much public attention that Hardin, a professor of English at Kansas University, is wondering whether maybe he isn't the one marching to the wrong drumbeat.
"That thing has come on so strong that I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the crackpot," he said. "Believing as I do that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare."
The de-Vere-as-Shakespeare theory isn't the only one that has raised Hardin's eyebrows.
Hardin said he once had a graduate student who wrote a paper on Edmund Spenser's epic poem "The Faerie Queen." The student argued that the poem was actually a coded message to Queen Elizabeth, revealing the secret shared Catholicism of two overtly Protestant Englishmen.
For others, it isn't so much crackpots or misinformed students as pop culture that makes them grin.
Dorice Elliott, chairwoman of KU's English department, said she took issue with author biopics that have little grounding in reality.
"In my own field, the best example is the movie 'Becoming Jane,' " she said. "Supposedly about Jane Austen's life."
These exercises in the strange, misinformed and just plain wrong aren't limited to English.
In a manila folder tucked away in history department chairman Paul Kelton's office are snippets of student papers he has collected since he was a graduate student in Oklahoma.
Kelton said he kept the bizarre tidbits around for the occasional laugh. Eventually, he hopes to assemble them into a history of the world according to students.
A brief sample of Kelton's collection:
¢ "President Lincoln said if we were to give blacks firearms that would be like giving the communists control."
¢ "Andrew Jackson took great strides to not be overly educated."
¢ "The 'I Have a Dream' speech was a moving speech, one such as Abraham Lincoln had given when expressing the Declaration of Independence."
Not all are so strange. Kelton said some students simply try to pad their papers by offering sweeping dramatizations of inconsequential historical events.
He considered himself lucky, he said, because most of his collection comes from his time as a graduate teaching assistant and not his time as a professor.
"I don't think it would be a good indication of my teaching abilities if I received a lot of these now," he said.