If you are on TikTok or Instagram, or, you know any social media, I’m sure you are no stranger to the rising notoriety that recent aesthetics have received in our pandemic world. So today I’m talking all things Dark Academia. What it means, activities, book recommendations, TV shows, fashion, everything. Maybe you resonate with part of it. Maybe a little bit, maybe a lot.
As always if you’re more of a visual person you can watch the video here:
Dark academia essentially is a kind of aesthetic that revolves around classic literature, the arts, philosophy, and the overall devotion to self-improvement, and knowledge. Along with that though, because this is dark academia, after all, there is a lot of reference to death, mortality, and morality. The focus on good vs. evil, and the gray area in life.
But honestly, I think this aesthetic goes a lot deeper than just a “look” and for anyone who deeply connects with it a lot of these things come naturally. So maybe I’m weird but it’s borderline a lifestyle, kind of. I didn’t know this had a name but I’ve been into so much of this since I was a kid.
In short, it’s a vibe. Perfect for this time of year with fall and winter, with everything being gloomy, dark, cloudy, and eerie. All the candles, dim lights, late nights, book piles, coffee, and tea. Oh, and some skulls too because we can’t forget momentus mori.
A lot of the aesthetic revolves around learning (obviously, it is academia) and college students, and universities like Oxford, Cambridge, and the Ivy Leagues. These are all common with any academia aesthetic because there are tons of other variations aside from dark academia like light academia, art academia, or chaotic academia.
But you don’t have to be in college to have this aesthetic in my opinion. I’ve been out of college for a very long time. If you are in college, and this fits your season of life, wonderful. But I personally feel like the pursuit of knowledge and all self-improvement is a never-ending journey. There’s an infinite amount of knowledge and books and things that we can continuously and propitiously learn and better ourselves by.
And along with that, even if you are in college there’s a big chance you might not be at Oxford or an Ivy. Honestly, this aesthetic does recieve scrutiny because of this traditional perspective and feeling like it’s elitest and lacks a lot of diversity being so Eurocentric.
BUT in my opinion just because it was one way at some point doesn’t mean it can’t change, and I think with the new wave of this aesthetic it’s brought so much more diversity and inclusion. Because you don’t have to only be at some prestigious school to be a part of the aesthetic, I believe strongly that some of the best education we can give ourselves is free and accessible.
I’m out of college but I educate myself every day with free or REALLY inexpensive resources, the perk of living in the digital age. I mean there are books (duh), resources like Coursera, Skillshare, Edx, apps, and a ton of other places to continue learning and growing. At the end of the day, true knowledge is knowledge and there’s a ton of different ways to get it and it’s not only at a lofty university. No one is better or more important than anyone else.
And just like this aesthetic is for anybody who wants to seek knowledge it’s for anybody who looks any kind of way and is from anywhere in the world, doesn’t matter your ethnicity or nationality. I mean I’m Afro-Latina. And honestly, this new wave is awesome, so many people sharing pictures and inspiration of all races and cultures. Sharing different book recommendations from POC authors or with POC characters and it’s really cool.
So what activities quantify as kind of dark academia? So there’s a lot of them, obviously reading and studying because that’s kind of at the crux of what this all is. So are…
Okay. So next let’s talk about the fashion, which personally is probably the part that I differ the most on but it’s still a vibe. There’s a lot of dark, muted, or more neutral colors, (which I still love). A lot of plaid, tweed and houndstooth as well in terms of patterns.
Okay. Next, we’re going to talk about books because honestly, if I were to put a list of all my favorite genres, they’re all dark academia genres. A lot of Dark Academia books include classic literature, philosophy, suspense/thriller/dark themes, and things that take place in a school or educational environment.
So here are a few recommendations (although I’m working on a full-fledged out list), I wanted to recommend books I’ve actually read.
Frankenstein By Mary Shelly
Dracula By Bram Stocker
The Picture of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde
A Secret History By Donna Tartt *not technically a classic but it’s a dark academia must which I unfortunately haven’t read yet, whoops
Wuthering Heights By Emily Bronte
Inferno By Dante Alighieri
The Iliad By Homer
The Odyssey By Homer
Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte
And Then There Were None (or anything Agatha Christie)
Metamorphoses By Ovid
Mythology By Edith Hamilton
Song of Achilles By Madeline Miller
Circe By Madeline Miller
I am leaving out movies just because I honestly have not personally, watched that many Dark Academia movies, and I want to recommend things I’ve actually watched.
Sherlock the TV’s show from BBC. Honestly the book and the show are both very dark academia vibes. But as per the title it follows Sherlock Holmes and Watson and it’s REALLY good.
Penny Dreadful This show was made for me. It’s horror and meets classic literature. We have characters like Victor Frankenstein, his creature, Dorian Gray. Vampires, witches, action, it’s seriously so good.
How to Get Away With Murder Very strong vibes here. There’s murder, they’re currently in law school, there’s suspense. Seriously so amazing.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. If you’re into witches, horror/thriller, and other kinds of spooky creepy stuff this show is it. Also takes place in a school environment. Have to say the first season was by far the best, the last one was not my fav.
Anyway, that concludes my summary of all things dark academia. I love everything underneath it, but again, make it your own.