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Discourse Networks 2000: A hypericonomy

, University of Florida, United States

University of Florida . Awarded


German Romanticism, according to Friedrich Kittler, begins at the precise moment when Faust, M.A., looks up from his book of magic ideograms and sighs—Ach!—subversively admitting his soul into the discourse of scholars. For Kittler, author of Discourse Networks 1800/1900, this picturesque scene serves as a nodal point leading into a study of the Discourse of the Republic of Scholars. What concerns us here, however, is not whether Faust is indeed the father of Romanticism, but what permitted him (and Kittler as well) to break out of the “endless circulation” of scholarly convention.

Inspired by the magic ideogram, Discourse Networks 2000 devises a scholarly method created for an electronic, picture-oriented culture; a method which transgresses the established boundaries of the Discourse of the Republic of Scholars by drawing into scholarship that which has conventionally been left out or suppressed: pictorial representation, post-print technologies, linguistic anomalies (puns, anagrams, etc.), non-linear narrative, and subjective experience. The product of this assemblage is a mode of scholarly discourse which has been dubbed “hypericonomy,” and its purpose is to eradicate the representational rigidity and disciplinary compartmentalization of traditional humanities research, replacing it with a type of scholarship that fosters multidisciplinarity, multivocality, and an openness to non-traditional technologies of representation (i.e., electronic, pictorial).

The seemingly cumbersome word “hypericonomy” is the offspring of W. J. T. Mitchell's concept of the hypericon, a term that I have modified to designate a picture or scene (i.e., the Faustian scene above) which encapsulates an entire episteme or mode of understanding. Hypericonomy is therefore an approach to scholarly praxis based on the management, distribution and arrangement of hypericons over space and time. By underscoring the diachronic, recurrent, and subjective nature of the hypericon as I have defined it, this project deconstructs periodic epistemological distinctions such as those implied by Kittler's 1800/1900. The goal, then, is not to identify a single Discourse Network 2000, but to demonstrate that multiple discourse networks circulate within any given period, and the hypericon is a means of tracing the presence of any discursive circuit. In this project, the discourse of the Republic of Scholars is tracked down for a very specific purpose: so that it might be short-circuited by the introduction of a methodological parasite known as hypericonomy.


O'Gorman, M.M.G. Discourse Networks 2000: A hypericonomy. Ph.D. thesis, University of Florida. Retrieved December 14, 2019 from .

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