I am an interdisciplinary scholar whose work focuses on developing new methodological approaches to transgressive gender and sexuality in historical literature and culture, both in academic research and in curatorial practice. 

I have taken this interest in two key directions: exploring how academic and curatorial practice might creatively respond to contemporary political arguments which seek to delegitimise trans experience by denying its historicity, and thinking about the construction of sexuality and sexual knowledge as a literary process rooted in genre and the literary marketplace.


My first monograph, The Reputation of Edward II, 1305-1695: A Literary Transformation of History, is out now with Amsterdam University Press. Click here to download the table of contents and introduction.

This book is the first project to analyse the development of Edward II’s sexual and political reputation in the four centuries after his death – including the origins of the consensus that his relationships with his favourites were sexual and romantic and that he was murdered by anal penetration with a red-hot spit, but also his significance as a paradigmatic exemplum of favouritism and deposition in early modern England and France.

The book also has significant implications for how we think about literature and history, both as disciplines and as genres. My research reveals that the most significant shifts in Edward’s reputation were instigated by literary decisions made by chroniclers: decisions which emphasised sensational detail, emotional engagement, and narrative structure, in order to engage their readers and thereby compete within the print marketplace.

Articles forthcoming

James Daybell and Kit Heyam, ‘Gendering Material Objects in Heritage Practice’, in The Routledge International Handbook on Heritage and Gender, ed. by Jenna C. Ashton (2023)

‘Negotiating sexual content in vernacular medical books: writers, printers, readers’, in Rewriting Medicine, ed. by Clark Lawlor, Ashleigh Blackwood and Leigh Wetherall Dickson (2022)

‘Former Guildford Hotel, Leeds’, ‘Former Knockaloe Internment Camp, Isle of Man’, and ‘Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York’, in Queer Spaces, ed. by Adam Nathaniel Furman and Joshua Mardell (Royal Institute of British Architects, 2022)

Articles published

‘Performing Historical Monarchs: Beyond the History Play’, Royal Studies Journal Special Issue: Performing Royal Power in Premodern Europe (2021)

James Daybell, Kit Heyam, Svante Norrhem and Emma Severinsson, ‘Gendering Objects at the V&A and Vasa Museums’, Museum International: Special Issue, ‘Museums and Gender’ (2020) DOI: 10.1080/13500775.2020.1779465

‘Gender nonconformity and military internment: curating the Knockaloe slides’, Critical Military Studies: Special Issue, ‘Curating Conflict’ (2019) DOI:10.1080/23337486.2019.1651045

‘Paratexts and pornographic potential in seventeenth-century anatomy books’, The Seventeenth Century (2018) DOI:10.1080/0268117X.2018.1506355

‘Creating trans-inclusive libraries: the UX perspective’, in User Experience in Libraries: Yearbook 2018, ed. by Andy Priestner (UX In Libraries, 2018), pp. 36-51

Book reviews

Book review: ‘Unperfect histories: the Mirror for Magistrates, 1559-1610 by Harriet Archer’, The Seventeenth Century 34:1 (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 DOI:DOI:10.1080/0268117X.2015.1082078

Peer-reviewed online publications

‘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)