It is a commonplace for academics to consider crime fiction as an experimental and hermeneutic genre, open to multiple meanings. Doesn’t it ask the reader to engage actively with the text they read, in order to produce their own interpretation ? In Roland Barthes terms, reading crime novels would appear as a writerly activity : the reader finds in taking control of the narrative a textual bliss most akin to the act of writing. But what about reading crime fiction in a Foreign language ? Quite apart from the reasons why it is increasingly often taught at University level as part of a degree in Modern Languages (on which a blog post shall follow soon), there seem to be a number of health benefits too. This is at least according to studies, conducted at the University of Lund, on the neurological virtues of reading in a different language.
Picking up a foreign language novel will give your brain a workout
Researchers tested Students from the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy, where intensive language learning is the norm, and medicine and cognitive science students at Umea University. Both groups underwent brain scans just prior to and right after a three-month period of intensive study. Amazingly, the language students experienced brain growth in both the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex, with different levels of brain growth according to the amount of effort and learning students experienced in that period of time. Continue reading