Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Conspiracy Theory

So, as many of you probably know, there is a moderately popular conspiracy theory that touches upon my field of study. Every now and then, students ask me about it, and I try to explain reasonably and neutrally that there isn't any evidence for it, and then move on. Less often, somebody makes a movie or TV show about it, or a complete stranger e-mails me out of the blue to Discuss Their Theories, both of which are situations that can be ignored.

Anyway, this particular conspiracy theory is relatively benign as such things go; that is, it doesn't involve denying historical atrocities, or accusing real people of fictional atrocities. (In its most common form, it does have a certain level of classist subtext, although there are a few variants that don't have the classism, and one or two that would be awesomely feminist if they weren't, you know, wrong.)

So why -- why -- do I always get Someone Is Wrong On The Internet Syndrome whenever I encounter it, such that I find it hard to concentrate on anything else? Aargh.


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

When I was in grad school, I asked this question of one of my teachers. He was gracious about answering me and gave me a good 10-minute explanation that is much better than many of the explanations I've heard from other experts when this comes up out and about. Because of his example, I try to be nice when students ask me; although, on day one of my Shakespeare class, I always bring it up before anyone can ask me so I can shut it down before someone starts to feel smarter than they really are.

But sometimes someone mentions the authorship theory to me when I've had a bad day and I want to say, "YOU ARE A FUCKING MORON." I nearly say it, but somehow keep my thoughts in check. Instead, I try to imitate my gracious professor and give the very good explanation, but I also say, "You know, people who don't know anything about Shakespeare always say something about the authorship question in order to seem like they know something about Shakespeare. What they don't know is how very, very stupid they are making themselves appear to people who actually do know something about Shakespeare."

Don't lose sleep over stupid people. One of the best things about the internet is that it has taught me to walk away from these things. It took a long time of futile fighting to get to that place, though.

Bardiac said...

Is this the one where the Doctor wrote Marlowe's works? Please!!

Undine Spragg said...

Yes, but if you count 4 lines up and 5 spaces to the right on each page, you will find a coded message that gives the author's REAL name in Pig Latin, right?

I blame the DaVinci Code for reviving interest in this.