STUDENTS at University Centre at Blackburn College have gained an insight into the world of academic research as part of a visit by a noted writer and researcher.

Dr Gail Crowther, a sociology lecturer who specialises in the works of American poet Sylvia Plath, answered questions from the students as part of a talk about her research into the life of the troubled writer.

Students from BA (Hons) English language and literary studies, social science, joint honours and graphic communication courses attended the talks, which focused on one of the most prolific periods of Plath’s life as she completed the proofs on her first novel The Bell Jar and produced of her acclaimed Ariel poems.

Dr Crowther was awarded her PhD from the sociology department at Lancaster University in March 2010 for her thesis The Haunted Reader and Sylvia Plath.

She has lectured in sociology at Lancaster University as well as religion, culture and society at the University of Central Lancashire and in social science for the Open University.

The academic is currently a freelance writer, researcher and academic. Her research interests are Sylvia Plath, studies from the archive, feminist life writing and sociological hauntings.

Dr Crowther was joined for the talk in Blackburn by artist and illustrator Anthony Cockayne whose work is inspired by Plath’s writing.

A discussion session after the event gave students the opportunity to talk about their own dissertation projects and gain a greater understanding of how to approach and manage their research.

Dr Craig Hammond, lecturer in sociology at University Centre at Blackburn College, said: “The event provided students and staff with a useful insight into a high profile author and provided a question and answer session.

“Events like these raise the profile of the external research and publication environment we are building here at UCBC and also provide students with an opportunity to engage with recently produced research.

“At an informal discussion after the event, a number ofStudents had an opportunity to discuss their current dissertation projects, meaning they were afforded access to different ideas and external contacts for further research purposes.”

The lecture was also attended by academic colleagues from the University of Central Lancashire and local Plath enthusiasts.