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Lena Tahmassian


Ph.D. Stanford University
B.A. Arizona State University


I specialize in contemporary Iberian cultural studies, particularly through the lens of Spain's cinema, visual media, music, and social movements from 1975 to the present moment.

My current research explores the relationship between political disenchantment and cultural democratization, as well as the intersections of liberal democracy and fascism in Spain and beyond. I ask, for example, whether cultural production can be a site of contestation of power in the absence of a more purposeful political program.

I have taught Spanish and Catalan languages as well as courses on Iberian cinema and literature. I do not view the study of culture and that of language as inherently separate; I have found that language learning is most effective when it is anchored in its social and cultural context, and that the most meaningful way to experience culture is through mastery of the language of expression.

In the classroom I strive to cultivate a democratic space that invites students to become confident speakers and critics. In this sense, my research and teaching are always in dialogue through emphasizing each student's role as co-creator of the text's meaning. Ultimately, my aim is to equip students with tools of cultural competency and critical thinking that they will take with them when they leave the classroom.

I have published articles on Spanish democracy and Iberian cinema. Currently I am working on a book-length project on the counterculture of Spain's transition to democracy (1975-86).