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Biography

Dr Kit Heyam received their BA in English and their MPhil in Medieval and Renaissance Literature from Homerton College, Cambridge, in 2011 and 2012. They studied part-time for their PhD – an investigation of the development of Edward II’s historiographical and sexual reputation over the period 1305—1700 – in the School of English, University of Leeds, and graduated in 2017. In 2018-19, they taught in the School of English Language, Literature and Linguistics at Newcastle University and were a postdoctoral research fellow on the project ‘Gendering Interpretations of the Collections of the V&A and Vasa Museums’, based in the Department of History, University of Plymouth. Kit joined King’s in 2019 as a maternity-cover Lecturer in Early Modern English Literature.

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • Medieval/early modern gender and sexuality
  • Medieval/early modern historiography
  • Medieval/early modern book history and reading practices

Kit is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research interests concern medieval and early modern gender and sexuality literature and culture, particularly the representation of transgressive gendered and sexual behaviour. Their doctoral thesis investigated Edward II’s developing historiographical reputation in the period 1305-1700, and revealed the means by which a consensus was reached concerning the nature of Edward’s relationships with his male favourites and the manner of his murder. Their current research project investigates the history of reading, writing and printing sexual content in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, illuminating the way in which readers approached – or were encouraged to approach – everyday encounters with sexual content in books that were not primarily framed as titillation. More broadly, having worked extensively within the LGBT History Month movement, Kit is interested in diversifying the scope of queer and trans histories, and particularly in developing methodological approaches to past gender nonconformity where motivations for this behaviour are unknown or heterogeneous.

Teaching 

Kit teaches on several undergraduate and postgraduate early modern literature modules.

Expertise and public engagement

Kit has worked extensively with the media as an expert on the history of gender and sexuality, and on contemporary trans equality. Most recently, as part of their role on the ‘Gendering Interpretations’ project, Kit has presented their research to various public audiences at the V&A, at Stockholm’s Vasa Museum, and live on Radio New Zealand. Previous media work includes an appearance as guest historian on BBC2’s ‘Inside Versailles’ (2016); interviews with BBC Radio Leeds and York (2015-18); interviews with the Guardian (2018), and consultancy work with a production company commissioned by Channel 4 for a series provisionally titled ‘Britain’s LGBT Monarchs’ (2017).

Kit coordinated the charity York LGBT History Month from 2016-17, and has communicated their research as part of LGBT History Month programmes in London, Brighton, Leeds and York. They also coordinate the ‘Rainbow Plaques’ project, a participatory heritage project which makes queer history visible in cities.

Kit is available for media consultation on any area of their research, and as a campaigner for trans equality within and outside academia.

Selected publications

  • The Reputation of Edward II, 1305-1697. A Literary Transformation of History (monograph forthcoming with Amsterdam University Press)
  • ‘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