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Light Academia is an academic aesthetic and the visually lighter counterpart of Dark Academia.

Dark Academia typically involves intense and negative themes, including literary tragedy, discussion of the meaning of life, heartbreak, oppression, escapism, and death. In contrast, Light Academia’s themes are generally positive, focusing on optimism, sensitivity, joy, gratitude, friendship, motivation, and happy endings.

Similar to Dark Academia, Light Academia involves an interest in literature, music, art, history, and learning. Light Academia visuals, literary inspirations, and philosophical themes are generally Eurocentric and classicist. Some proponents of Light Academia have attempted to resist this Euro-centrism by utilizing academic clothing from non-Western European cultures, and recommending, quoting, and discussing books by non-European, non-English-speaking, and non-white authors.

However, visuals from classical antiquity still play a significant role in Light Academia, and the Western canon are a significant part of the philosophy. Western architecture, including church buildings, libraries, museums, and universities, feature frequently in Light Academia images. Haussmann-era Paris and images of domesticity also differentiate Light from Dark Academia.

History

Light Academia was created in a Tumblr text post by the user 'plantaires' on January 17, 2019. The user wrote, "you’ve heard of ‘dark academia’, now its time for ‘light’ academia… wearing light linen sundresses in foreign countries, eating picnics and pastries in the afternoon sun while reading poetry and laughing with your friends, the burning passion and excitement when you finally make a breakthrough in your research, falling asleep in your lovers arms sunkissed and happy… everything is beautiful and hopeful and no one dies."[1] As there are no light academia tags, and as demonstrated through its propositional tone, this is the post that created the aesthetic. The dissemination of the term was largely a whim, and it was other users who expanded upon her idea, as opposed to deliberate aesthetic creation, as demonstrated by her confusion in the tags of another text post, where she wrote, "did I... accidentally coin a term?"[2]

Visuals

Light Academia tends to utilize the colors white, tan, cream, gold and other pale colors. The photographs are taken in natural lighting, with generous sunshine, often overlapping with Golden Hour images.

Cozy and domestic imagery is a popular motif in Light Academia and contributes to the softer and more loving environment of the aesthetic. Unmade beds with books on the sheets, food (typically coffee, bread, and fruit), and cluttered apartments are images that appear more often in Light Academia than Dark.

Sculpture is always done in white marble and in the styles of Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical. Technique, such as in the illusion of flesh, psychological presence, diaphanous fabric and drapery, is admired. These sculptures are extremely popular because they fit into the Light Academia color palette easily.

The artworks utilized in light academia come from the periods typically associated with European civilization: Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Academic, Romantic, Aesthetic and Pre-Raphaelite periods are included. However, Light Academia does not emphasize these eras of painting as much as Dark Academia. Rather, Impressionist art, which uses a light color palette and images of middle class life and nature, making it an overall softer and welcoming atmosphere, is more popular.

Baroque, Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical architecture are featured frequently in light academic images, as most of the prestigious campuses, museums and libraries were built in this style. Rusticated stone, wrought iron fencing, white marble, classical columns and generous ornamentation are common traits shared among these spaces. In addition, Haussmannian apartments and streets (the "classic" Parisian stone buildings with white plaster molded interiors) contribute to the simultaneous elegant and comforting atmosphere.

The romanticization of studying, journaling and letter-writing is demonstrated through appreciation for calligraphy and stationary. Fountain pens and typewriters are proudly displayed and users would often take images of the results of their notebook entries, not unlike Studyblr. However, their writing is cursive and decorations are sparse.

Images associated with literature are another common photo subject. Antique books, etchings for chapter pages, screenshots of e-books with highlighted lines, annotations and typography are common. Latin, ancient Greek, English and French are popular in dark academia both as subjects of linguistic study and in aesthetic images of text.

Nature photography, often overlapping with Cottagecore, can appear. Fields of grass, bushes of flowers, crawling ivy, and orange groves are some examples. Like Cottagecore, these plants are controlled and mild.

Cafe society is also another influence on the aesthetic. Coffee shops are associated with both the flaneurs of 19th-century Paris and the contemporary stressed college students of today. As such, that space is romanticized and images of coffee, people-watching and studying within the space is popular.

Fashion

Tops

  • Blazers
  • Turtlenecks
  • Corduroy jackets
  • Cardigans
  • Cable knit sweaters/jumpers
  • Button up shirts/dress shirts
  • Sweater vests

Bottom

  • Linen shorts
  • Dress pants
  • Cigarette pants
  • Skirts

Outerwear

  • Trench coats
  • Pea coats
  • Duffle coats
  • Overcoats
  • Waistcoats
  • Uniforms

Shoes

  • Wingtips
  • Mary Janes
  • Doc Martens
  • Oxford shoes

Accessories

  • Headbands
  • Glasses
  • Hair ribbons
  • Hair clips
  • Knee high or ruffle socks
  • Watches
  • Leather belts
  • Cufflinks
  • Brooches
  • Pearls
  • Berets

Colors

  • Browns
  • Cream
  • Rose
  • Burgundy
  • Green
  • Banana yellow
  • Navy blue
  • Beige
  • Off-white
  • Grey
  • Black
  • White

Patterns and Materials

  • Tweed
  • Corduroy
  • Plaid
  • Leather
  • Houndstooth
  • Gingham
  • Flannel
  • Tartan
  • Madras
  • Linen
  • Knit and crochet
  • Lace
  • Argyle
  • Cashmere
  • Silk/satin

Websites & Stores

Room Decor

  • Tea sets
  • Old photos
  • Mini statues
  • Candles
  • Vintage board games
  • Old-looking books
  • Record player
  • Old writing tools (fountain pens, dip pens)
  • Dried/pressed flowers
  • Bookshelves
  • Wood furniture and antique furniture (lighter shades)
  • Fancy, antique mirrors
  • Framed photos and art
  • World globes
  • Posters of classical artwork
  • Upholstered or tuft headboards

Music

Genres

  • Baroque Pop
  • Easy Listening
  • Jazz Swing
  • Light Classical
  • Soft Rock
  • Theme/Orchestra

Artists

  • The Beach Boys
  • Billie Holiday
  • Camille
  • Chet Baker
  • The Carpenters
  • Claude Debussy
  • Chopin
  • Edith Piaf
  • Foxygen
  • Frank Sinatra
  • The Ink Spots
  • Lana Del Rey
  • Maurice Ravel
  • The Supremes
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Vince Guaraldi
  • Johannes Bornlöf
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Playlists

Spotify

YouTube

Films

Movies

  • The African Doctor (2016)
  • Another Country (1984)
  • Billy Elliot (2000)
  • The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind (2019)
  • Dead Poets Society (1989)
  • The Emperor's Club (2002)
  • Enola Holmes (2020)
  • Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
  • First They Killed My Father (2017)
  • Five Feet Apart (2019)
  • The Goldfinch (2019)
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
  • The Half Of It (2020)
  • The Harry Potter movie series (2001-2011)
  • Hidden Figures (2016)
  • Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
  • Hugo (2011)
  • Indian Horse (2017)
  • In This Corner Of The World (2016)
  • Kill Your Darlings (2013)
  • Little Women (2019)
  • Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
  • Nigerian Prince (2018)
  • Pride and Prejudice (2005)
  • The Riot Club (2014)
  • Roma (2018)
  • School Ties (1992)
  • Sense and Sensibility (1995)
  • A Silent Voice (2016)
  • The Theory Of Everything (2014)
  • Tolkien (2019)
  • Whiplash (2014)
  • Wonder (2017)
  • Yes, God, Yes (2019)

Television

  • Anne With An E
  • Bear in the Big Blue House
  • Between the Lions
  • The Crown
  • Dear White People
  • Derry Girls
  • Fleabag
  • Franklin
  • I Am Not OK With This
  • The InBetweeners
  • Politician
  • The Queen's Gambit
  • A Series Of Unfortunate Events
  • Sex Education
  • Lark Rise to Candleford
  • High Fidelity

Books

  • Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  • Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
  • Emma - Jane Austen
  • The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
  • Room on the Roof - Rusking Bond
  • The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

Activities

In general, it all is about the warm and positive, pleasurable parts of student life. Frequently used examples are:

Travel

  • Art galleries
  • Bakeries
  • Bookshops
  • Cafés
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Old buildings
  • Historic houses

Outdoors

  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Foraging
  • Gardening
  • Hiking
  • Picnics
  • Runs
  • Swimming
  • Walks

Sports

  • Archery
  • Badminton
  • Ballet
  • Boxing
  • Croquet
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • Ice skating
  • Lacrosse
  • Rugby
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Water polo

Games

  • Board games
  • Card games

Liberal Arts

  • Learning an instrument
  • Visual arts
    • Calligraphy
    • Drawing
    • Painting
    • Photography
    • Sculpting
  • Literary arts
    • Poetry
    • Music
    • Letters
    • Note-taking
    • Language learning
  • Culinary arts
    • Baking

Crafts

  • Carpentry
  • Crochet
  • Knitting
  • Embroidery

Gallery


Resources

Pinterest Boards

Reddit

r/LightAcademia

Amino

Light Academia Amino


  1. plantaires. (2019, January 17) you've heard of 'dark academia', now its time for 'light' academia. [Text post]. tumblr, archived on Wayback Machine. https://web.archive.org/web/20190503004121/https://plantaires.tumblr.com/post/182093386365/youve-heard-of-dark-academia-now-its-time
  2. plantaires. (2019, November). did i...accidentally coin a term? [tags on cottoncandybookwitch's text post]. tumblr, archived on Wayback Machine. http://web.archive.org/web/20210606232934/https://plantaires.tumblr.com/post/189078586375/cottoncandybookwitch-i-cant-decide-if-im-more
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