I am an interdisciplinary early modernist scholar with a specialism in gender and sexuality. At present, I am a Teaching Assistant in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University.
My research interests are in the field of medieval and early modern English literature, with a broad interest in the representation of transgressive sexual desire and behaviour. I am currently working on turning my PhD thesis, which explores the development of Edward II’s historiographical reputation during the period 1305-1700, into a monograph; developing my next major research project, ‘Reading, writing and printing sexual content in early modern England’; and writing a journal article derived from my MPhil and PhD research, ‘‘Amongst Christians Not to be Named’: Disabling and Enabling Homoerotic Discourse in Early Modern England’.
My current research project, for which I am developing a proposal for a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, proposes a large-scale investigation into the history of reading, writing and printing sexual content in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. Using a corpus of around 700 texts from genres which deploy content that evoked sexual desire and/or activity for purposes other than titillation, it foregrounds everyday encounters with this content, illuminating the diverse reading practices and responses that characterised those encounters. It thereby contributes significantly to our understanding of the diverse modes of reading that were practised and envisaged in early modern England. Moreover, it investigates how writers and printers framed sexual content in different genres; the anxieties and attitudes this reveals, and how these shift according to historical and political context; and the reading practices they envision. The project’s large-scale nature enables meaningful arguments about trends and common practice in the negotiation of sexual content, substantially developing our understanding of changing early modern habits of thought concerning sex.
My doctoral thesis (School of English, University of Leeds, 2012-17) investigated Edward II’s developing historiographical reputation in the period 1305-1700. It asked how a consensus was reached concerning the nature of Edward’s relationships with his male favourites and the manner of his murder, and which texts played a significant role in shaping this consensus. Edward’s reputation, my research revealed, was significantly shaped by the influence of literary texts and techniques, and by consideration of an imagined reading public – demonstrated by the addition or retention of sensational details for the enjoyment of readers, appeals to contemporary literary taste or political allusion, and the shaping of narrative structure into established patterns.
The prospectus for my first monograph, Edward II 1305-1695: Reputations, Afterlives and the Literary Transformation of History, is currently under consideration with Cambridge University Press.
‘Paratexts and pornographic potential in seventeenth-century anatomy books’, The Seventeenth Century (2018) DOI:10.1080/0268117X.2018.1506355
‘Gender nonconformity and military internment: curating the Knockaloe slides’, Critical Military Studies: Special Issue, ‘Curating Conflict’ (under review)
Book review: ‘Unperfect histories: the Mirror for Magistrates, 1559-1610 by Harriet Archer’, The Seventeenth Century (2018) DOI:10.1080/0268117X.2018.1475251
Book review: ‘Barbara Gribling, ‘The image of Edward the Black Prince in Georgian and Victorian England: negotiating the late medieval past’’, Royal Studies Journal 5:1 (2018), pp. 191-193
Book review: ‘John S. Garrison, Friendship and queer theory in the Renaissance: gender and sexuality in early modern England’, The Seventeenth Century 30:4 (2015), pp. 486-488
‘York Lesbian Arts Festival, 2000-2008: “It was like we took over the city…”’, Queer Beyond London (24/05/2017)
‘Maleficent favourites: seductive bewitchment at the English court’, NOTCHES: remarks on the history of sexuality (29/11/2016)
‘Rainbow plaques: mapping York’s LGBT history’, NOTCHES: remarks on the history of sexuality (23/07/2015)
‘Beyond penetration: rethinking the murder of Edward II’, NOTCHES: remarks on the history of sexuality (24/03/2015)
- “Kit is a really great seminar tutor. I get so much from the seminars – interactive, engaging, well thought through.”
“Kit was very good at making us think about wider reading and his marking was excellent.”
“Kit Heyam was a fantastic seminar tutor. I genuinely appreciated the way in which he manages discussion between us.”
School of English, University of Leeds
- 2014-18: Seminar tutor, ‘Medieval Literature’ and ‘Renaissance Literature’ (Level 2); ‘The Plays of Shakespeare’ (Level 1)
- 2015-17: Lecturer, ‘Narratives of Witchcraft and Magic’ (Level 1)
- 2015-16: Workshop leader, ‘Study Skills for Final Year Project in Medieval and Early Modern Literature’ (Level 3)
School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds
- 2018: Lecturer/workshop leader, ‘Placement in Context’ (MA)
Lifelong Learning Centre, University of Leeds
- 2017-18: Guest lecturer, ‘The Renaissance’ (Level 0)
School of Humanities, York St John University
- 2015: Visiting lecturer, ‘Shakespeare and his Contemporaries’ (Level 2)
For past media appearances, please see my media page.
In 2015-16, I curated the exhibition For All Time: Shakespeare In Yorkshire at the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery. Showcasing the Brotherton’s English Literature collection, the exhibition explored Shakespeare’s engagement with English (particularly Yorkshire) history, and the ways in which directors and actors continue to use his work to ask questions about regional identity.
In 2016-17, I led the curatorial team on York Out of the Closet: 50 Years of LGBT History at York Castle Museum. The exhibition combined oral histories, loaned objects and photographs to tell the story of LGBT life in York – focusing on social life, activism, crime, health and the history of York Pride – from 1967-2017.
I am an assistant coordinator of the charity York LGBT History Month. I was the lead coordinator from 2016-17, and was the school outreach coordinator from 2014-16. I also coordinate Rainbow Plaques, a participatory public history project which invites members of the public to make DIY cardboard plaques marking places significant to local, national or personal LGBT history.