What Really is Dark Academia?

Books, movies, and more!

Nayanika Saikia
A Thousand Lives


Photo by Patrick Robert Doyle on Unsplash

What is Dark Academia?

Dark Academia is a genre of literature that literally revolves around academia or learning. Therefore, you will see that it is mostly set in educational institutions and follow the lives of students.

It revolves around the pursuit of knowledge and classical literature. There is also an obsession with Greek mythology, and the vengeance of the Gods is a common element.

The obsessed artist trope is also a great example under this category (think Black Swan and Whiplash).

However, like the term ‘Dark Academia’ itself suggests, it is dark. And no, I don’t simply mean dark shades of colors and poorly lit (with candles) atmospheric pictures. It means that too — the vibe. But it is dark at a deeper psychological level.

The characters often are corrupt aesthetes whose moral compass isn’t where it should be and is for general society. Often, they are what you would call ‘unhinged’ and morally grey but really bordering on evil. They are often sociopathic or psychopathic but most often narcissistic.

Despite all the moral (or rather, immoral) implications, dark academia makes for an interesting topic to read about or write about. For some people, to even emulate in their lives.