Calabresi-Melamed and Bernard Malamud:

With the possible exception of attending committee meetings, grading final exams is the most boring part of a professor's job; that - plus recovering from ankle surgery- is what I have been doing the last few days. Tis definitely the season to be jolly.

Every once in a while, however, the monotony is broken by a hilarious exam blooper. In my Property class, I always cover the Calabresi-Melamed framework which distinguishes property rules, liability rules and inalienability rules.

This year, the students seem to have grasped it well. However, I did read one exam that repeatedly referred to "the Bernard Melamud" theory. What (other than my inadequate teaching, of course) could have led the student to make this mistake? I eventually figured out that he or she must have confused Calabresi and Melamed with novelist Bernard Malamud. Malamud did write some books where legal issues feature prominently; his most famous novel, The Fixer, is a fictionalized account of the trial of Mendel Beilis, a famous anti-Semitic "blood libel" case in czarist Russia. Unfortunately, however, Malamud - unlike Jane Austen - didn't focus much on property law and wasn't much of a law and economics scholar.

It's a minor mistake by the student and one that I didn't penalize much; but humorous nonetheless.

UPDATE: As commenter JonathanM points out, Malamud did in fact write a property law-related novel, The Tenants. Perhaps the student had read this book recently, applied a Calabresi-Melamed analysis to to the plot and began to conflate their theory with Malamud!