How do people view adjuncts?

At a recent conference, I told someone I was an adjunct and watched her physically lean back in her seat. She didn’t leave the table—I was sitting with her friends—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, “Oh really?” in a bright and happy voice and leaned toward me, putting her elbows on the table to propel her body forward.

She didn’t ask me any other questions, so the change in attitude didn’t seem to have been about Purdue or their program, but rather about my legitimacy. She apparently thought I couldn’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.

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