Blunt Intertwines Passions for History and Art

Clad in his brown seersucker jacket, Nile Blunt, Instructor in History, studies Winslow Homer’s “Eight Bells” at the Addison Gallery of American Art. Blunt often strolls through the gallery after the school day ends, gazing at historic works through his thick-rimmed glasses.

Entering his fourth year of teaching at Andover, Blunt has been very involved in art and history on campus. He has served on a search committee to recruit a new Director of the Addison and has worked as the coordinator for Andover’s collection of art and antiques. In addition to his role as an Instructor in History, he has also coached intramural soccer and Senior tennis and is a house counselor in Taylor Hall.

He is currently writing a book, entitled “Ceremony, Ritual and King Craft at the Court of King Charles I,” which will explore the dining rituals of nobility in 1600s England through the eyes of politics, religion and culture.

Largely spurred by his family’s interest in history, Blunt’s own interest in the subject began with frequent visits to museums while growing up in southern New Jersey.

“Every weekend we would go to museums. We lived about 50 minutes from Philadelphia, so we went to a lot of museums there. We would drive down to D.C. or up to New York doing that kind of thing. Every time we took a vacation, we were going to cities to see the culture and the museums that these cities had,” said Blunt.

“It is really the stories that draw me to history. When it is done well, history can make stories come alive… As a cultural historian, looking at cultural evidence, being able to piece together these things from the sources that are available and reconstruct stories is exciting because it feels like detective work,” he continued.

A trip to London helped Blunt narrow his interest in history to a focus on early English history during the 17th century.

“My real honing in on English history in the 17th century came out of working at the Somerset House museum in London. Having that experience as a historical researcher is really what got me interested in pursuing history and in going to grad school to become a professional historian,” said Blunt.

Attending American University in Washington, D.C., Blunt originally studied international relations before switching to history during his sophomore year.

“I switched to history because that was my actual, real interest. [American University] was an amazing place to do a history major,” said Blunt.

Blunt eventually earned his Ph. D. in Early Modern English History at the University of Illinois, just before his first year as an instructor at Andover.

Blunt feels that the words “intellectually curious” and “perseverant” would aptly describe his personality.

“My interests generally, not just in history but in all other things, are very, very broad. I’m a voracious reader, and my bookshelves are filled [with books:] from books about Alexander the Great, to books about Teddy Roosevelt, to books about Walt Whitman. I really value having time to pursue intellectual pursuits in great length,” said Blunt.