Kit Heyam

Kit Heyam

Postgraduate Research Student

Summary: Former PhD student (awaiting viva) and seminar tutor in the School of English. Thesis entitled "Literary and historical representations of Edward II and his favourites, c.1305-1700". Pronouns: he/him.

Teaching Commitments:
Medieval Literature (Semester 1 2017-18)
Narratives of Witchcraft and Magic (Semester 2 2015-16, 2016-17)
Renaissance Literature (Semester 1 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18)
The Plays of Shakespeare (Semester 2, 2015)

Research interests

My research is 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 interested in the textual expression and negotiation of anxiety surrounding sexual transgression, particularly (though not exclusively) love and sex between men. Past research projects, in which I remain interested, have focused on early modern fears of sexually attractive young men; the negotiation of homoerotic subject matter through classical references in late Elizabethan poetry, and the applicability of censorship discourse; and anxieties surrounding potential erotic appropriation of seventeenth-century anatomical texts. 

I have recently submitted my PhD thesis, and am awaiting my viva. My thesis (supervised by Professor Paul Hammond) investigates references to Edward II’s close relationships with his male favourites in medieval and early modern England, encompassing chronicle/historical texts, drama, poetry and political writings. Although these texts are frequently brought to bear on debates concerning the sexual and/or romantic nature of Edward II's relationships with men, they are rarely considered as part of an accumulative, increasingly sensationalised myth surrounding him (which finds expression, for example, in the growth of a historiographical consensus concerning his murder by anal penetration with a red-hot spit). Moreover, analysis of these texts frequently displays anachronistic attitudes regarding the conception of sex (between men or otherwise) in the periods that produced them. My research therefore aims to contextualise these texts within both the historiographical development of Edward II's story, and a scholarly understanding of the history of sex. Close reading, as my central methodology, will both illuminate influences between texts and facilitate the responsible interrogation of what are frequently ambiguous descriptions. Once completed, the thesis will provide a guide to medieval and early modern perceptions of Edward II’s sexual behaviour that is grounded in and informed by contemporary attitudes. 

Public engagement

I am currently an Assistant Coordinator (formerly Lead Coordinator) of York LGBT History Month ( Our organisation aims to bring together organisations across the York area for a cohesive programme of events that raise awareness of, and celebrate, the history of what we now call LGBT+ identities. Over the last two years I have established York LGBT History Month's school outreach programme and helped to coordinate our participation in the National Festival of LGBT History. My personal imperative is that LGBT history should be presented as an aspect of the history curriculum taught in schools, rather than an isolated category: by coordinating these workshops, I want to demonstrate to pupils that same-sex relationships have existed throughout history and are a dimension of every historical period. The purpose of this project is not purely academic: our main aim is to combat the sense of isolation often experienced by teenagers who identify as LGBT+, by reinforcing the message that these identities can and should be incorporated into the scope of history teaching.  

I was the Guest Curator of the exhibition "For All Time: Shakespeare In Yorkshire" at the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery ( Showcasing the Brotherton's English Literature collection, the exhibition explores 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.

I co-curated the exhibition "York Out of the Closet: 50 Years of LGBT History", at York Castle Museum (


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 


"For All Time: Shakespeare In Yorkshire" (Made In Leeds TV, September 2016)

"For All Time: Shakespeare In Yorkshire" (BBC Radio Leeds, September 2016)

"Inside Versailles" (episode on Philippe, duc d'Orleans: BBC2, June 2016) 

"Anne Lister and Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate" (BBC Radio York, March 2015)

Conference papers

"Gender nonconformity at Knockaloe internment camp: representing polyvocal narratives" (co-presented with Claire Corkill, Council for British Archaeology, at Exhibiting Gender, Curating Conflict: University of Bristol, June 2017)

"‘Amongst Christians not to be named’: the importance of legal idiom to the study of sex between men in early modern England" (Sexing the Past: University of Liverpool, March 2017)

"Politicising and legitimising the minion in Marlowe's Edward II" (Society for Renaissance Studies biennial conference: University of Glasgow, July 2016)

"Excessive love at the court of Edward II" (International Medieval Congress: University of Leeds, July 2016)

"Personal negotiations of hetero- and cisnormativity in research and teaching" (Academia and Affect: University of Sheffield, June 2016)

"Reading sodomy in the historiography of Edward II" (invited speaker at Approaching the Medieval reading group, March 2016)

"Is literature LGBT history? The case of Edward II" (What is and how to do LGBT History: University of Manchester/Manchester Metropolitan University, February 2016)

"Medieval languages, modern assumptions: a call for interrogative translation" (What Is And How To Do LGBT History: Manchester, February 2015)

"The performative body of Edward II" (Society for Renaissance Studies Biennial Conference - Performative Spaces: University of Southampton, July 2014)

"'Amongst Christians not to be named': discursive censorship of homosexuality in Elizabethan poetry" (Censorship and Deviance: University of St Andrews, July 2013)

"'Indecent illustrations': paratexts and pornographic potentiality in seventeenth-century anatomies"(Erotica, Pornography, and the Obscene in Europe, 1600-1900: University of Warwick, April 2013)