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

March 1, 2010
When my son was about three we took him out to a restaurant where kids were welcome. He sat in a high chair with a tray, and we put things on it for him to eat. I can't remember exactly what it was that he was so intent on, but I do remember him chasing a piece of food around the tray with his fork, trying — and failing — to spear it. "I got it, I got it, I got it!" he chanted. Then, almost without taking a breath — "I need help!"
February 15, 2010
February, not April, is the cruelest month. Ask anyone in the mid-Atlantic states who's been pummelled by snow for the last couple of weeks. Here in central Virginia it's only raining today, but in some ways, that's worse: it's grey and cloudy and cold and there's not even a chance that anything will be cancelled for it. In the meantime mounds of snow are still piled up in the parking lots and along the sides of streets, and the potholes have appeared from under the now-melted ice and snow, making the simplest drive an obstacle course.
February 8, 2010
When I first started taking yoga classes, some years ago, I used to joke that of the three things yoga requires (and cultivates) — balance, strength, and flexibility — I was only good at balance. This was ironic, since in my personal and professional life I felt reasonably strong and probably way too flexible — and thus, unbalanced. But there it was: I could stay standing throughout a Tree pose, hold Chair for a while, shift my weight properly for Triangle. In yoga if not in my life, I was balanced.
February 1, 2010
Today was a snow day of sorts and tomorrow's another one, so I'm feeling a bit behind. I've been thinking, though, about what I've learned so far this semester — here's a start:1) Startitis doesn't work when you make a big mistake near the beginning of a project but don’t notice it until the end. Ask me how I know this.
January 25, 2010
After blogging at this site for well over a year, I start to fear that I'll repeat myself. And, sure enough, when I sat down to write a post about knitting, I discovered that I'd done it before. That earlier post was a pep talk of sorts, a reminder to myself that I need to make time for things I love that aren't directly related to my work.
January 4, 2010
A week ago I was in a warm and well-appointed hotel room, embarking on a second day of conference interviews for a position in my department. I'm aware, as I write this, that already I'm describing an anomaly. Everywhere I turn I see articles about the shrinking job market for humanities PhDs, the dearth of job interviews at this year's MLA convention — the same bad news we've been hearing for many years, but worse.
December 22, 2009
A week from now, the presents will all be unwrapped, the Christmas cookies mostly eaten—and I'll be sitting in a hotel room with three of my colleagues, interviewing some fabulous job candidates. Between now and then, I'll have refamiliarized myself with my potential new colleagues' work, hosted a holiday party, given and received various gifts, read two or three books for a book award committee I'm on—
December 14, 2009
Last month Aeron Haynie's piece on "taking students personally" hit home for me. One of the great pleasures of teaching in a liberal arts setting is getting to know my students individually, often teaching them in more than one class and developing a relationship that goes beyond the classroom.
December 7, 2009
Mothering at Mid-Career: End of Semester Bullets and Questions--What happened to Thanksgiving? We had a houseful — which is why there was no blog post from me last week—a broken oven (fixed before the big day, thank goodness) and a leaky roof. And yet we were thankful — for family, food, and a remarkable number of lost items recovered and broken items fixed. We might have preferred that they never got lost or broken, but you can't have everything.

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