Chris Gabbard grew up in Palo Alto, California. In the 1980’s while living in San Francisco he served as the chief editor of The Short Story Review, the first venue to publish work by Chinese-American writer Amy Tan. Pulled from the “slush pile,” her short story “Endgame” (vol. 3, no. 4; Spring 1986) became the basis for the novel The Joy Luck Club (1989) and the film of the same name (1993). He married Ilene Chazan in 1992, and in 1999 he earned a Ph.D. in English literature at Stanford University. He now teaches courses in British Enlightenment (eighteenth-century) literature and Disability Studies in the Humanities at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, where he is Professor of English. He enjoys running, reading, hiking, gardening, and going to the beach.
It was while wrapping up his dissertation that his catastrophically impaired son August was born. The event sparked his interest in Disability Studies. His memoir A Life Beyond Reason grew out of an essay published in 2010 in The Chronicle of Higher Education. August died in 2013; video and pictures of him can be viewed at There Was A Boy.
Chris and Ilene have one surviving child, Clio.
Chris sits on the Board of Directors of the The DLC Nurse and Learn. Located in Jacksonville, Florida, the DLC provides childcare for children ages birth to 23 years old of all abilities, including those with severe cognitive and physical impairments and/or medical needs. It is the only after-school and summer facility for such children in the city. A non-profit organization, it survives on public donations.