Quite opposite of the popular cottagecore aesthetic, dark academia is an aesthetic focusing on higher education, classic literature, and Gothic architecture. If you need a visual, think of a student wearing a tweed blazer with a black turtleneck and vintage plaid pants on a gloomy fall day in an Ivy League library. Still unclear? You may also imagine a typewriter, vintage photos, Greek mythology books, and a flickering candle on top of a professor’s cluttered desk.
Though no one is certain where the aesthetic originated, many credit books like The Secret History and social media sites like Tumblr for its popularity over the last three decades. Much like cottagecore, we have TikTok to thank for the aesthetic’s current resurgence.
As a book genre, these novels take place in an academic setting and incorporate dark, tragic, satirical, and sometimes violent elements. Light academia, on the other hand, focuses on the setting rather than the dark themes.
Whether you are looking for inspiration or just want to check off the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt, cozy up by candlelight with one of these dark academia favorites.