Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

The Truth About Dark Academia and Why We All Love it

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Scranton chapter.

This year, dark academia is once again consuming the lives of so many book lovers. As the summer fades away and autumn comes rushing in, more and more examples of this aesthetic can be found everywhere, but chiefly on social media platforms like Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram. It seems like every fall, as the days get darker, so do our aesthetics, now cluttered with tweed blazers and vests. We’re inspired by intage leather-bound books, candles smelling of libraries and rainy coffee shops, and notebooks filled with classic poetry. But the questions still remain, what really is the dark academic aesthetic, where does it come from, and why does everyone love it?

At its heart, dark academia is an aesthetic that combines a gothic and romantic ambiance that appeals to a lot of people. It combines the literature, art, and music of several different times in history and gives them a modern makeover, while still holding onto a dark, almost mysterious at times undertone. Examples of dark academia can be found in fashion, books and stationery, art and photography, academic or study spaces, and even different symbols. All of these are surface level, what is at the core of dark academia?

The whole aesthetic, understandably from the name, pursues intellectualism. There is an appetite for reading, writing, and even learning. There is an underlying emphasis on academic achievements, excellence even, placing it of great importance in the minds of true dark academics. It’s filled with references to classic literature, philosophy, and art. To be succinct, this aesthetic is for those who greatly value and crave education and knowledge.

But where does it come from? Because of all the various influences of dark academia, there is no one true source. It is more a conglomeration of times in history where literature and art were prominent, but there are three main sections that each make up a different part of the aesthetic.

Firstly, there is the overall mood and vibe of the aesthetic, which comes from the Gothic and Romantic movements. These often included themes of mystery, melancholy, and even the supernatural at times, which can be found in the dark academic aesthetic.

Secondly, the fashion and furnishings that speak to the dark academic aesthetic come from the Victorian and Edwardian eras in the United Kingdom during the late 19th century and the early 20th century. These parallels come more from the fashion of the time, including some very dark fabrics and color pallets. There was also an emphasis on the ornate in every aspect, which can be found in dark academic fashion and décor.

Lastly, at the core of dark academia is the real substance, which can be found in the classical influence of the Greeks and Romans. These inspirations refer mostly to the content of dark academia, meaning the interest in mythology, architecture, and even language. This aspect adds the intellectual depth that is so often paired with the aesthetic.

The most important question, however, remains: why does everyone love dark academia?

The truth is there are a few reasons why this aesthetic has dominated every fall season for the past few years, but the main reason is, it’s nostalgic. This world is only getting more fast-paced and digital, so it’s no surprise that some people find comfort in the past—in the known.

Yes, this aesthetic allows people to romanticize these eras from so long ago, but it also helps them to romanticize their own lives. It has this element of escapism that is increasingly becoming more popular as this world becomes more unbearable. It’s a return to the past in not only an aesthetic way, but in a value way as well. It goes back to a time where the pursuit of knowledge was what everyone was after, not just consumerism and capitalism. Back when the most important things were literature and art and philosophy.

And honestly, partaking in this aesthetic makes you feel like you’re in a book yourself—like you’re the main character of your story. And truly, what’s more alluring than that?

Shannon Parker

Scranton '24

Hi! I am a senior English major, I love reading, writing, playing with my dog, and hanging out with my friends and sister:) I am also one of the CCs of HC Scranton!!