Libby Gruner

Libby Gruner is an English professor at mid-career who started her family in graduate school. She lives in Richmond with her husband and two children, whose 7-year age gap means that she will be the parent of a teenager for quite a while yet.

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Most Recent Articles

January 19, 2009
I’m teaching a new course this semester, and it’s one that requires me to stretch quite a bit beyond my normal boundaries, beyond what Gerald Graff recently called “coursecentrism” on this very site. A couple of years ago, I was part of an ad hoc committee that examined how we introduce students to the English major and decided to change it.
January 12, 2009
Someone just asked me to participate in a panel discussion on “balancing teaching and research” (this in the context of a series on “Managing the Challenges of the Tenure Process for Women Faculty”) and my first reaction was to say no. Not because I’m too busy (though I am), or because it’s someone else’s turn (though it might be), but because I was afraid I wouldn’t have any credibility on the subject.
January 5, 2009
This week my family starts a new chapter, as our daughter moves to San Francisco for the second half of her gap year. The part of me that isn’t consumed with envy (spring in San Francisco!) or anxiety (my baby’s moving away!) is excited for her as she embarks on this new adventure. And for us, too, as we do. Our son will, at least for the next five months, learn what it’s like to be an only child.
December 15, 2008
I keep a Word document open on my desktop most of the time. It says "IHE blog ideas," and it's a collection of links and phrases that should spark something for a blog entry. This week I notice that I haven't updated it in a while; I don't think anyone's still really interested in Sarah Palin and working mothers, for example, and several of the other links are to articles published a month or more ago, articles (therefore) that I can't really remember.
December 8, 2008
Several of our recent Mama, PhD blog posts have generated a lively discussion in various other corners of the blogosphere. I happened on one such discussion at 11-D, the blog of political scientist Laura McKenna.
December 1, 2008
A recent article in the New York Times suggests that rather than career ladders, we should be thinking of career “lattices,” with both vertical and horizontal moves possible in the long-term development of a career. It’s an appealing image to anyone who has ever wondered if they’re cut out for climbing a ladder all the way to the top.
November 24, 2008
Thanksgiving week offers a welcome break from the treadmill of the semester, which always seems to speed up just before it comes crashing to a halt. One day last week I spent 13 hours on campus, then returned less than 12 hours later. Feeling somewhat sorry for myself, I posted this information on my facebook page — and had almost immediate commiseration from colleagues on both coasts who found themselves in the same straits. Both are also mothers.
November 17, 2008
A colleague, rushing out the door, popped her head into my office briefly. "You don't happen to have any secret tips on parenting 7th graders, do you?"
November 10, 2008
One of the things I do when I'm not teaching or preparing for class, not grading or cooking or working on my research -- one of the things I do relatively rarely, in other words -- is knit. I like to knit. It satisfies on many levels. For one, it allows me to create something without requiring great effort -- I just follow the directions. I don't need to think very hard about it. It can be done while I am watching TV, or listening to the radio, or even (once) listening to a conference paper. Sometimes I get a Christmas gift out of it, or a warm scarf for myself.
November 3, 2008
I first came to political consciousness during the Watergate era. We'd been living overseas and actually returned to the U.S. on the day of the break-in; the next few years, it seems to me, passed by in a haze of newspaper articles and Senate hearings. The names Haldeman and Erlichman still mean something to me.

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