HELLO LGBTQ COMMUNITY. If you have decided to read this article, you are probably either not straight or not cisgender. For those of you are who are straight and cisgender, lmao loser (jk…or am I?).
If you happen to be active on TikTok, Tumblr, or Instagram within the last few months, you may have seen the term “Dark Academia” floating around. Dark Academia is centred around higher education, writing, the arts, and classic Greek and Gothic architecture. If this sounds interesting to you, this may be the aesthetic for you.
Despite existing for several years, this aesthetic has been popularized on these social media platforms during this ongoing quarantine in the age of COVID-19. Ryan Taylor and Maria Teresa Negro are credited for introducing the subculture onto Instagram in 2017.
They garnered an audience with their prose posts, photography, and journal musings about Classic and Romantic literature. Many other accounts appeared and began to create their own content that was influenced by the original pair.
However, it is important to mention that another similar subculture, studyblr, has been around for slightly longer than Dark Academia. Dating back to 2014 on Tumblr, this aesthetic focuses on studying and learning, thus there are many overlapping aspects between the two movements.
One of their most prominent shared features is that they were both popularized through social media, a rising superstar in spreading new subcultures. With a quick Google search, one will find pages and accounts on Tumblr, Pinterest, and many other sites, that are solely dedicated to the aesthetic. The number of people leaning into it seems to be growing every day, as there are more than 3 million results that appear on the search engine.
Dark academia is considered to be LGBTQ inclusive due to the androgynous clothes associated with it. It is also viewed as a more accessible and affordable aesthetic, as unlike cottagecore, another popular quarantine subculture, it does not require a home in the country or leisure time for crafts and catching frogs. The only unofficial requirement is a blazer, which can easily be found in one’s closet or at any thrift store.
Accessibility and all, there are problems that have arisen within the community, most prominently elitism. Some critique it for having a Eurocentric focus on Ancient Greece and Rome, as well as on Latin, which promotes European studies as more “intellectual” than other subjects.
Others criticize the classist exclusivity that some followers have created around it, as not everyone has the access to higher education or to the arts. Nevertheless, all subcultures have their issues, and these should not be ignored.
With autumn rolling in and most of us being college students, now is the perfect time to join the dark academia subculture. All you need to do is find a blazer, and you’re set to go.
By Angélique Chu