Trinity College is blessed with incredible professors who mentor and grow students across all disciplines. Get to know Dr. Bradley Gundlach, our Distinguished Professor of History who has taught at Trinity since 1999 and taken students to tour Europe three times for the college’s Western Cultural Heritage course.
Dr. Bradley Gundlach, Distinguished Professor of History
Q. What makes you passionate about history? Why did you choose it?
A. I’m passionate about history because it’s endlessly fascinating. I’m very interested in the big picture and big patterns — that’s what I teach in my World Civilizations courses. But it comes to life when you get down to the details. I remember the day it occurred to me: life before 1900 wasn’t in black and white, it was in color. It was in vivid color. In fact, if you think about it, the sky was probably bluer. The grass was probably greener because there was less pollution. If you think of the Middle Ages, do you think of the smell of fresh green grass? Life was just as new then as it is for us now.
Q. What was your college experience?
A. I went to Princeton for my undergrad. I lived in New York City for three years, and then I came to TEDS for their interdisciplinary program. I did a Master of Arts in Christian Thought, combining church history with philosophy of religion. From there, I went to the University of Rochester, where I got my PhD working under the well-known cultural critic Christopher Lasch.
Q. What are some highlights from teaching at Trinity College?
A. Teaching our Western Cultural Heritage class. I’ve done that three times, and it’s a mashup of Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation, and Western Civilizations I and II. In a way it’s four courses squished into one! Students take the class on Wednesday evenings in the spring semester, and then in the May term we go for a three-week trip to London, Paris, Berlin, Salzburg, Florence, and Rome, with side trips to Cambridge and Versailles and Sachsenhausen concentration camp and Wittenberg and the Italian Riviera. We go to these utterly world-class museums. We go to the British National Gallery, we go to the Louvre, we go to the Fitzwilliam . . . it’s amazing.
“Life before 1900 wasn’t in black and white, it was in color. It was in vivid color. In fact, if you think about it, the sky was probably bluer. The grass was probably greener because there was less pollution. If you think of the Middle Ages, do you think of the smell of fresh green grass? Life was just as new then as it is for us now.”
Q. Why did you decide to teach at Trinity?
A. I love that Trinity is a small Christian college. I like knowing my students. I like having them in a few classes and being able to write good recommendations for them. One thing that makes Trinity stand out among evangelical Christian colleges is Trinity’s deep interest in the very things I’m interested in exploring in my own research. So the science and religion question, the Princeton theologians, the authority of Scripture, apologetics, and our library! The library and colleagues at the seminary who would be good conversation partners for me as I was moving forward with my book were both big factors.
Q. What is something your students wouldn’t guess about you?
A. I like to cook and invent things in the kitchen. Recently I made one of my best inventions ever! It’s a spiced mulberry pie. The process was that I made a pie and it wasn’t very good —mulberries don’t have much intense flavor the way like a blueberry or a raspberry would— so I tried spicing it up, and I think it’s quite delicious, actually.
I’ve done a pile of work on my family history as well, and I like to take pictures. If you stacked up all of my photo albums, they’d be very tall.
Q. Do you have any pets?
A. My family has a cat named Paws and she is by far the best cat in the whole world, barring none. She’s getting sort of older now and we’re thinking, “we will never find another cat like Paws!” She’s beautiful, mostly white with patches of Brown Tabby. Her fur is medium length and really silky and she is the kissiest cat I have ever met. She just loves to give kisses and is very sweet. When my kids come home from college, the first one they want to see is Paws.