Leslie Jamison


By definition, adjunct means, "a thing added to something else as a supplementary rather than an essential part." So, we know what we're getting into. Still, it sucks to be nonessential when you do essential things pretty well. There are 2 or 3 weeks before any given semester begins when adjunct instructors get to feel entirely essential. Today alone I've had two phone interviews and gotten no fewer than three other email inquiries about whether or not I can teach at X institution. Some of these are schools that I approached 6+ weeks ago, when I was putting my schedule for the fall together. I've played this game many times. So! Onward! I'm preparing to teach a class of all men (boys?) business majors at a private college. I'm teaching Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams. I planned this syllabus weeks and weeks ago, before I knew I'd have a class of all men, but now, it seems even more essential. Everyone needs to learn empathy. But maybe especially men. Maybe especially men, empathy toward women. Not that that's what this book is about. It's more about just seeing other people for who they are. Understanding lives that seem entirely different from your own. Jamison investigates super weird communities: people with obsessions and diseases, and biases. She writes beautifully about them. She becomes them, in a way. Someday I'd like to become a real teacher, with a living wage and reasonable benefits; but until then, I'll do my best at being essential, in a supplementary way.