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Nostalgia in Dark Academia
Nostalgia in Dark Academia

Author(s): Maryann Nguyen
Subject(s): Gender Studies, Comparative Study of Literature, Higher Education , Ethnic Minorities Studies, Theory of Literature
Published by: Editura Universitatii LUCIAN BLAGA din Sibiu
Keywords: dark academia; academic novels; campus novels; racism in academic institutions; sexism in the academy; student life; Greek life and rape culture; humanities in crisis; neoliberal university;

Summary/Abstract: Dark academia is a fandom-created genre that draws on campus novels and thriller murder mysteries and extrapolates its aesthetic affects from the Gothic. At the heart of dark academia is a story set in a nostalgic academic fantasy that involves murder, a close-knit group of students who are obsessed with each other and detrimentally absorbed in their intellectual pursuits. Using nostalgia theory, I argue that the genre’s theme of darkness in tandem with its affects of nostalgia operate as simulacra for the anxieties experienced in academia and on campuses, specifically for its student body. Dark academia as a genre is a reaction to the political threats to the humanities education, which stands for a reification of the value of a more classical education for the love of learning. But, at the same time, while some bathe academia in a nostalgic light, others have criticized how dark academia turns a blind eye to structural issues inherent in academia for generations. However, dark academia is a contemporary genre that quickly evolves in response to those criticisms. By tracing the history of dark academia and its canon development over the years, I examine how dark academia self-critiques campus nostalgia and unveils the academy’s history of violence against women and racism against people of colour.

  • Issue Year: 22/2022
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 54-72
  • Page Count: 19
  • Language: English