Dark Academia, a disturbing trend – Observatory
Over the years, what started as a “book club” created a community of young people influenced by Renaissance, Baroque and Romanticist cultures, among others. And while literature is one of the pillars of the Dark Academia, calligraphy is also important. People who follow this trend often experiment with linguistics, write letters by hand, and try out fountain pens.
Usually the trend has two sides: on the one hand there are the classics from both the canon of literature and art history and on the other a series of works of pop culture . For example, followers can read works like “Antigone” by Sophocles or “Harry Potter” by JK Rowling, watch films like “Dead Poets Society” released in 1989, or “Knives out” released in 2019. In terms of music, artists from Frédéric Chopin to Lorde are included in the playlists.
Regarding the fashion aspect, another part of the most popular trend is associated with the English male elite, seeking to give the impression of studying at a university in the early 20th century: blazers, turtlenecks, clothing. vintage where paintings and autumn tones predominate. It is extremely attractive to young people as it promotes an androgynous style since it is common to wear men’s jackets or blazers.
The pandemic is playing a huge role in its recent popularity, as many students aspire to more traditional education rather than online courses. Another critical factor is the decline in humanities majors to prioritize STEM, as in the UK, where the Department of Education has cut funding to arts and humanities institutions by 50%. However, the origin of the trend concerns as it inherently perpetuates that Western study, and classical literature, is the epitome of academia. In addition, he idealizes the stereotype of thin, white, rich and intellectual men like the students of Julian Morrow in Donna Tartt’s book “The Secret” or those of John Keating in the movie “The Society of Dead Poets”.
As in the Dark Academy, the latter example glorifies specific texts written by white male authors representing English literature and excludes anyone who does not conform to the Eurocentric ideal of authenticity. Subtly but surely, this aesthetic fuels canonical formation and oppressive narratives that historically favor white male narratives.
Much of the movement relies on the aesthetics of films and novels from other decades, creating a nostalgic and romantic take on an era before the decline of the humanities. It would be better to have programs, movies, books and more than to romanticize today’s education-based knowledge and learning to advance it. There is nothing wrong with glorifying education as long as it includes different narratives and voices, not only from white men but from women, minorities and from all regions beyond the Western world. Only promoting this narrative as “classic” helps maintain hierarchies determined by gender and race, but what if Dark Academia emphasized different voices in addition to rich white male characters?
Translation by Daniel Wetta.