At a recent conference, I told someone I was an adjunct and watched her physically lean back in her seat. She didnâ€™t leave the tableâ€”I was sitting with her friendsâ€”but she certainly disengaged from any part in my conversation.
When I later mentioned to a colleague sitting beside her that I have a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from Purdue University, she said, â€œOh really?â€ in a bright and happy voice and leaned toward me, putting her elbows on the table to propel her body forward.
She didnâ€™t ask me any other questions, so the change in attitude didnâ€™t seem to have been about Purdue or their program, but rather about my legitimacy. She apparently thought I couldnâ€™t be a serious scholar as an adjunct.
She may be right about that. Scholarship is difficult, when teaching is the primary focus of work and an overload must be carried simply to achieve financial independence.