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 17, 2011
Two posts on Inside Higher Ed caught my eye the other day; one, from The University of Venus, on being a “virtual chair”; the other on the gender gap in academic service.
January 10, 2011
One of the great joys of academic life, it seems to me, is the opportunity for fresh starts. New semesters and new academic years offer such great promise, such hope — and, whether that promise is realized or not, there will always be another start, not too many months away.
January 3, 2011
I’m not much of a resolution-maker; I’m too afraid I’d be a resolution-breaker to even go down that road. And I’m not much of a stock-taker, either—while my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been filled with year-end lists of one sort or another, I’ve clicked past most, more interested in what’s next than what’s just happened.
December 20, 2010
Christmas is, for our family as for so many others, all about the traditions. But the way we observe the traditions can change from year to year, and for me holiday baking is one of those endlessly altered traditions.
December 13, 2010
It may be exam week for my students — and my daughter — but it’s grading week for me. This means that the dining room table is covered in papers, notes, knitting needles, yesterday’s newspaper, and crumpled tissues. (No, the papers aren’t making me cry, but I do seem to have a cold). It also means that my status updates have been full of self-pity and procrastination techniques. (Hence, the knitting needles.)
December 6, 2010
Classes are over, so I’m breathing a sigh of relief, right? Well, in a word, no. Now we hold all the meetings that could wait until the end of the semester. Now we clean up the mess in the office made by being too busy to do so all semester. Now we grade. Now we get sick (not on my to-do list, but my son spent two days at home last week with a nasty cold, and I fear it may not be far off for me, either). Now people call with questions that have been answered three times already, but not recently. Now it’s time to send out reminders for next semester.
November 29, 2010
This past Sunday was the first day of Advent, the beginning of a new liturgical year in the Christian calendar. Because I sing in a church choir I am attuned to the liturgical calendar, which makes for a little confusion at this time of year. On the one hand, the school year is winding down — we have only one more week of classes before exams. How can it be the new year? On the other hand, we’re gearing up at the same time, for next semester. I’m wrapping things up on one part of my desk, and making new plans on the other.
November 22, 2010
Sometimes teaching is a lot like baking. It helps to have a goal, and to have the basics down, but then it also helps to be flexible. Sometimes you just don’t have the necessary ingredients (the motivated students? The right mix of readings?), but you still have to teach the class. Baking’s often a lot like that for me.
November 15, 2010
 Four. Sixteen. Eight. Thirty-two. Five. Nineteen. Six. Lately everything I do seems to have a number on it. I have paper proposals to respond to, course proposals to read, a review to write. I watch the time as I grade and wonder if it’s worth stopping for a few minutes to gauge my progress. I decide not to — I don’t need to know how slowly I work, or for that matter how quickly. The work takes as long as it takes, and then there’s more work when that’s done. It’s good work — I’m not complaining — but it does add up. It doesn’t ever seem to diminish. 
November 9, 2010
I’ve got a few weeks left in my CSA share. We’re in the leafy-greens stage of the fall, it seems: last week’s share included kale, collards, and mustard greens as well as arugula; there were also carrots, peppers, and turnips. We’re a long way from the weeks of tomato bounty and huge bunches of basil, but I’m still enjoying it. This past weekend I had some time to talk to Ali, the farmer, when I picked up the share.


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