Narratives in / of Costa Rica. Individuals, Communities and their Voices

GL/SP/COMS 4608 3.0 Narratives in/of Costa Rica.  Individuals, Communities and their Voices 

Course instructor (Summer 2019): Alejandro Zamora, PhD (

Extended registration deadline: March 15, 2019

The course

In this course we explore local narrative environments. The narratives we cover range between fiction and non-fiction and include community narratives, life stories, and other narrative forms and practices. Offered in Costa Rica, the course focuses on the narrative life of that country, specifically on that of the Biological Corridor Alexander Skutch.

During the course we meet with different communities to hear the stories that are important and meaningful to them, how these stories represent them, and how they are linked to others and to their environments. We reflect on what is a personal or a community voice, and how such a voice may differ from dominant narratives that may have been used to frame them, their lands, their activities, and their products.

The activities we do during the course include hiking to explore the region and develop a sense of the place; doing narrative exercises of our own (i.e. taking an autobiography workshop, a life story workshop, a chronicle workshop); visiting indigenous communities, families, organizations, towns, markets; conducting unstructured interviews.

At the end of the course you produce a narrative work of your own incorporating the experiences and reflecting on the act of telling stories. This will also be a reflection on writing as an act of (self) knowledge and as a means of building archives of memory, articulating communities, and fostering empathy.

Depending on your interests and abilities, your project may involve writing a chronicle, a travel journal, a digital story, an audio podcast, a blog, a photo essay, etc.


Course Activities and Experiential Learning

These are some of the course activities:

  • Class sessions in different locations such as Nauyuca Waterfalls, Ventanas Beach, York’s EcoCampus, University of Costa Rica
  • Narrative workshops (autoethnography, life story and chronicle/travel journal)
  • Meetings with indigenous communities, local artists, farmers and activists in Cabecar, Dominical and San Isidro
  • Visit to San José


Language requirement

Spanish is not required for this course unless you are majoring in Spanish (in which case you are required to submit course work in Spanish to receive major credits). Before the course start you can talk to the professor and get guidance to sort out different levels of communication and understanding. The course’s flexibility in terms of language competence is part of its goal, as we aim to explore different ways of relating and interpreting across languages.

Who can take this course?

This Glendon course is open to all undergraduate (3rd and 4th year) and graduate students from any York program. It is offered by the Department of Hispanic Studies and is crosslisted with Glendon’s Communications program. It is recognized as an elective in the programs of Spanish (Glendon and Keele) and Communications (Glendon). Students in other programs should check with their program directors if it would be recognized as an elective in their program. If it is not accepted as an elective course for major credits in their program, students can still take this course to fulfill the 18 credit requirement of courses out side of major (a requirement across all programs at York). Students pursuing an iBA can also take it to fulfill the 12 credit requirement of internationally-oriented courses. 

Ready to enroll?


And contact the Program Coordinator:

Ana María Martínez, PhD

Flyer Narratives PDF