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

September 7, 2009
Many years ago, my husband and I planned our wedding for Labor Day weekend. Almost everyone we knew was a teacher, and school always started after Labor Day, so it seemed a convenient time as well as a date we’d have no trouble remembering.
August 31, 2009
There's a crispness to the air today, a snap that makes me think fall is on the way. New England falls are glorious, and I'm sorry I won't see most of this one; we're only here for a few days, making what I've been calling a “royal progress” to take our daughter to college.
August 24, 2009
I got back to the States just over a week ago. The next morning, my 12-year-old started a week-long day camp and I went back to work. Our last few days in England had been a true vacation, sightseeing in London, and I’m really glad we took the extra days. At the time, though, it had begun to feel almost like a burden—there was a syllabus to write, after all, a talk to give at the faculty colloquy, a daughter to prepare for college. Those three days, though, (almost) internet-free and far from a phone, gave me the break I needed to get back to work this week.
August 10, 2009
My piece last week struck a nerve, it seems, among some childless academics and with at least one person who didn’t comment as a teacher, but as someone working a more nine to five position. The big divide, as this commenter noted, is not really between the parents and those without children, but between folks with flexible work schedules and those without.
August 3, 2009
Traveling and teaching in England this summer I've had a remarkable release from childcare responsibilities. Part of it is that my kids are older now — my 19-year-old daughter requires almost no additional care (though she's happy to have someone else buy her lunch!), while my son, who just turned 12, can certainly stay home alone for an hour or two without anxiety. Part of it is that my husband is along with me, and has no other formal responsibilities of his own, so he is picking up all the slack.
July 27, 2009
Somewhere in my blog reading over the last few weeks I ran across a link to a brief piece in Double XX, the “women's blog” that reported on a study of the effect of professors' politics on their students. Perhaps unsurprisingly to anyone who has taught college in the last twenty years, the researchers discovered little if any effect.
July 20, 2009
Blogs are boring. Did you know? No less an authority than the Wall Street Journal has decreed it so; indeed, work-life balance blogs, like this one, are particularly boring. At least, that seemed to be where the above-referenced article began, with a side-swipe at the entire concept of a “national conversation” (especially one about something so potentially trivial, and certainly so elusive, as work-life balance).
July 13, 2009
It's a commonplace to joke about the linguistic divisions between the English and Americans. We may share a language, American TV and movies may own the globe, and computers may make instantaneous communication throughout the English-speaking world possible, but we still have trouble, sometimes, making ourselves understood to each other. I find myself saying “pardon?” just as often as I hear it from shopkeepers and telephone service folks myself—it's particularly hard to make yourself understood over the phone, I find, absent body language and gesture.
July 6, 2009
Dean Dad’s recent blog post about lunch on the lam struck a chord for me. I may not the need to get away for lunch every day, as he does, but I do recognize the need for a mid-day break. There was a time when I used to lunch with colleagues most days I was on campus. We went off campus, shared stories about our teaching or our families, then headed back in for a productive afternoon of work.
June 22, 2009
We leave for a six-week stay in England next Monday. In between now and then I have to finish my annual review, write a book review, hold a workshop on a novel for YA librarians, convene a committee meeting, and pack. I think I have a couple of personal appointments in there as well — haircut? Dermatologist? I trust to my google calendar to pop up a reminder in enough time for me to get where I need to be. Then there’s the figuring out our travel part, and the planning my summer course part. I’m shelving those for the moment while I work on the more pressing matters.


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