Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Michael Handelsman

Committee Members

Luis Cano, Mildred Gimmel, Euridice Silva, Joanne Logan


Though the topic of the environment in Costa Rican literature is relatively recent, it is by no means insubstantial. In fact, this particular theme is extremely pertinent in our current days of global warming, mass pollution, fracking, and oil spills, to name just a few issues directly relating to the environment. Therefore, as a hotbed of eco-tourism and environmental awareness, Costa Rica’s literature is a prime candidate for exploring the representation of nature, not as the result of a process of progress and modernization, but rather as a grave warning of the negative ecological effects of the coloniality of nature.

Despite advances in theories concerning environmental conservation within contemporary literary studies, there are still other possible readings and perspectives to think outside of the epistemic framework that is guided by development and modernization projects typical of the colonial system. Traditionally, mainstream social groups throughout the western world have perceived and portrayed nature as a resource to preserve for the benefit of humans. In effect, nature is seen from an anthropocentric viewpoint. The exclusion of subalternized communities, especially those in bio-diverse areas, makes it clear that there is a hierarchy of power in which the local voices, whose knowledge of nature moves beyond coloniality, are silenced.

This dissertation attempts to offer a critical reading of the works of five Costa Rican authors based on eco-culturality that recognizes that the literary representation of nature is complex, and both the explicit and implicit messages concerning this representation require an investigation that not only covers what the authors say about nature but also problematizes how they represent it in their narratives. Specifically, we examine La loca de Gandoca (1992) by Anacristina Rossi, Cuentos y relatos del Pacífico Sur (2008) by Manuel Aguilar Vargas (1923), Los cuentos de Jack Mantorra (1988) and Los cuentos del Hermano Araña (1991) by Quince Duncan, Cuentos de mi Tía Panchita (1920) by Carmen Lyra (1888-1949), and Historias cabécares (1989), told by Tolók Bótobö (1895-1908) and compiled by Severiano Fernández Torres and Valeria Varas.

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