In multiple ways, dark academia is not new. Rather, it is a
continuation of different pre-existing aesthetics that
had a basis in artistic periods, literature and
mannerisms surrounding the upper class. Poised, elegant, and mysterious:
Dark Academia portrays a high-class,
culturally educated, intellectual
and success-driven personality.
“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.” -Donna Tartt, The Secret History
Dark academia revolves around classic literature, the pursuit of self-discovery and a general passion for knowledge and learning.
Dark academia's visuals stem primarily from upper-class European culture of the 19th century and American Prep. The upper class of this time period emphasized a liberal education in which Latin, rhetoric and classics were taught subjects. These are now seen as unusual and slightly esoteric, creating an allure that presents schooling as not dreary or boring, but one that cultivates mystery, curiosity, and diligence that isn't commonly seen in contemporary school.
Pretentiousness is celebrated within the dark academia community. Romanticizing education and moments in life is the core appeal of the aesthetic. Making grandiose statements and wishes for success is a common text post subject.
Other than the appreciation of learning, dark academia thought includes themes of criminality, danger and mystery. Secret societies, cults and murder are subjects within the aesthetic. Characters within the works of fiction associated with Dark Academia, specifically The Secret History and Kill Your Darlings, live decadent and self-destructive lifestyles involving drugs, moments of intense violence and secrets.