CFP for NeMLA 2022 | Queering Dark Academia: Investigating Cultural Expressions of the 'Other'

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Languages Association (NeMLA)

Dark academia is a recently emerging term of phrase describing not only an aesthetic within popular culture but also a type of genre involving an academic background, elements of the gothic, and the spectacular. Like the speculative supergenre, dark academia often borrows freely from other literary and cultural categorizations, in the way of crime fiction, classical Greek & British mythologies, artistic aesthetics, paranormalcy, romance, villainy, stoicism, and posthumanism. Oftentimes within dark academia, the Other represents a romanticized villain and/or monster with whom the reader and reviewer empathizes with. Through this romanticization, we often find that nostalgia for a colonial history takes centerstage. This is also in relation to elements of abuse, sexual violence, and murder and their integral connection with colonialism, white supremacy, and gendered/sexual hegemony. Due to academia itself being rooted within Western ideology, such as Cartesian systems of knowledge and the Enlightenment, we often find that depictions of dark academia as aesthetic, literary, and cultural forms reproduce hegemonic ideals of colonial thought. This seminar seeks to investigate the many ways in which cultural productions of dark academia through cinema, series, literature, music & art signify Otherness and designate monstrosity. How we might counter and decenter this movement and its inherent nostalgia for an Imperial past by placing it into a more diverse and inclusive background is an integral aspect of this seminar.

Thus, this seminar investigates the emerging genre of dark academia and its numerous implications, critically examining its nostalgic approach to Western classical thought. It further questions the figure of the romanticized Other within the genre and its relation to elements of abuse, sexual violence, and murder and their integral connection with colonialism, white supremacy, and gendered/sexual hegemony. Books like Donna Hart’s The Secret History, M.L. Rio’s If We Were Villains, and These Violent Delights by Micah Nemerever, films like Dead Poet’s Society, Kill Your Darlings, and Maurice or series like The Magicians, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are prime examples. Many current examples are primarily white- and Euro-centric which is exactly what this seminar hopes to deconstruct through a decolonial lens.  

Possible topics relating to novels, films, & series centering dark academia include, but are not limited to:

  • Abusive relationships & sexual violence
  • Notions of queerness & othering
  • Decolonial imaginings of dark academia
  • Constructions of masculinity & femininity
  • The romanticized Other
  • The construction of monstrosity & villainy
  • Notions of conspicuous consumption
  • Aesthetics constituting dark academia
  • White supremacy & Western ideals of Enlightenment
  • Notions of Western nostalgia
  • Depictions of hegemonic structures
  • Aesthetics and celebration of knowledge
  • Speculative elements within dark academia
  • Crime, mystery and horror elements

NeMLA seminars require that papers be completed and circulated among participants prior to the conference. Participants will be asked to read all papers and be prepared to contribute to a structured discussion. Presentation time will be limited to a maximum of 10 minutes, focusing on an overview and/or highlights of the paper.

Please submit an abstract of 250 to 300 words describing your proposed seminar paper by September 30th, 2021, to the submission page:

With your abstract, please include a statement acknowledging these obligations and expressing a commitment to fulfill them as well as a short bio.

NB: Participants must submit a complete draft paper no later than February 1st, 2022, to be shared with all seminar participants prior to the conference. Papers should be between 15-20 pages, typed (Times New Roman, 12p) and 1.5 spaced, and include a “Works Cited” section. All participants are expected to read each other’s papers in preparation for the session and provide at the conference a one-paragraph response to one person as assigned by the session chairs.