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

June 15, 2009
It’s that time of year—lots of things winding down, a few more starting. It’s been a month since my school year ended, but Nick’s last day of school is tomorrow. He’s ready — and so are we all. The end of the school year has been taken up with tests, projects, and the occasional field trip, and it’s starting to feel as if they’re just marking time. So tomorrow is the last day, and then he has the rest of the week free before a one-week summer camp that provides his transition to our summer in England.
June 8, 2009
Did you hear the news? Over-parenting is over. So decree the arbiters of lifestyle trends — or, at least, Lisa Belkin, who has been writing about parenting in the New York Times for the better part of this decade.
June 1, 2009
Last week Inside Higher Ed reported on an intriguing paper by Dahlia K. Remler and Elda Pema, a professor of public affairs and economics, respectively, that began to try to analyze the reasons professors engage in research “at the expense of teaching time.” In the report, titled “The Mystery of Faculty Priorities,” Scott Jaschik listed some of Remler and Pema’s preliminary conclusions, while also noting that the paper’s main contribution is to point out how understudied the issue is.
May 18, 2009
 Last year at this time I was beginning to see the end of my sabbatical. My colleagues had wrapped up their courses, turned in their grades, and had started to join me in my unstructured life of research, writing, summer vacation planning, and the like.
May 11, 2009
It’s been just over a year since I started writing this blog. Last May I was just coming off sabbatical, and we had just made significant decisions about our children’s next steps. I spent the summer writing, traveling, and planning for the fall, while my daughter graduated from high school and made her first forays into political organizing and retail sales and my son enjoyed his last summer before middle school.
May 4, 2009
In graduate school my friends and I occasionally amused ourselves by imagining what our dissertation topics said about us. Female violence? Prostitution and “fallenness”? Sibling incest? They may have been safely “literary” topics, but what did it say about us that we had spent so much time on these topics rather than, say, gardens?
April 27, 2009
This week the MLA released the full version of its “Associate Professor” survey results. Data from this report has been trickling out since the convention in December, but the full report merited articles in both Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education on Monday.
April 20, 2009
Lately I find myself wearing several hats. I’m chairing a committee to look into our first-year curriculum, for example, at the same time as I’m advising my daughter on her plans for her first year in college. The disjunction is stunning.
April 13, 2009
I read aloud in my classes a lot. In children’s lit, I explain that I want my students to experience the text as the child audience often does — as an oral performance. In my Victorian literature classes, I remind my students that many Victorian novels were family read-alouds, and I read short passages frequently to force us all to slow down, to pay attention to the details of scene-setting and dialogue that, reading for plot, we may skim through.
April 6, 2009
 My sixth-grade son Nick recently had to write a “reflection” piece after finishing a sixth-grade math project. It began with a sentence something like this: “I basically just scraped by at the last minute on this one.” This was the occasion for a teachable moment at home — how aware is he of his audience? What is the purpose of the reflection piece? What, in other words, did he learn?

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