Maxwell School

Mark Monmonier

Distinguished Professor of Geography


Contact Information

318 Maxwell Hall
(315) 443-5641


Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, 1969


Geographic information (technology and policy), map design, data visualization, history of cartography in the 20th century, hazards and land use

Personal Website



Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2012). 

No Dig, No Fly, No Go: How Maps Restrict and Control (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).

Coast Lines: How Mapmakers Frame the World and Chart Environmental Change (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008).

From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

Rhumb Lines and Map Wars: A Social History of the Mercator Projection (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004). Also published in translation in Korean.

Spying with Maps: Surveillance Technologies and the Future of Privacy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).

Bushmanders and Bullwinkles: How Politicians Manipulate Electronic Maps and Census Data to Win Elections (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).

Air Apparent: How Meteorologists Learned to Map, Predict, and Dramatize Weather (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).

Cartographies of Danger: Mapping Hazards in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).

Drawing the Line: Tales of Maps and Cartocontroversy (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1995).

Mapping It Out: Expository Cartography for the Humanities and Social Sciences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

How to Lie with Maps (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991; 2nd edition, 1996). Also published in translation in Czech, French, German, Japanese, and Korean.

Maps with the News: The Development of American Journalistic Cartography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989).

Map Appreciation (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1988). (with G. A. Schnell)

Technological Transition in Cartography (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985).

The Study of Population: Elements, Patterns, and Processes (Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill, 1983). (with G. A. Schnell)

Computer-assisted Cartography: Principles and Prospects (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1982). 


“History, Jargon, Privacy, and Multiple Vulnerabilities,” Cartographic Journal 50.2 (May 2013): 171–74.

“Borrowed Borders: Cartographic Leverage from Empires to Zip Codes,” Glimpse: the art + science of seeing, no. 8 (Autumn 2011): 14–21.

“Hubris Came before the Times Atlas’s Fall,” New Scientist (18 October 2011), online at

“Maps as Graphic Propaganda for Public Health.,” in David Serlin, ed., Imagining Illness: Public Health and Visual Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011), 108–25.

“Reflection Essay: ‘Strategies for the Visualization of Geographic Time-Series Data’,” in Martin Dodge, ed., Classics in Cartography: Reflections on Influential Articles from Cartographica (London: John Wiley & Sons, 2011), 71–79.

Divide and Exploit,” Kartographische Nachrichten 60.1 (2010): 3–10.

“I Know Where You Are Right Now,” New Scientist 207.2767 (July 3, 2010), 30–31.

“Maps in Journalism,” in Christopher H. Sterling, ed., Encyclopedia of Journalism (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2009), 868–72.

“High-resolution Coastal Elevation Data: the Key to Planning for Storm Surge and Sea Level Rise,” in Daniel Z. Sui, ed., Geospatial Technologies and Homeland Security: Research Frontiers and Challenges (New York: Springer, 2008), 229–40.


“Aerial Photography at the Agricultural Adjustment Administration: Acreage Controls, Conservation Benefits, and Overhead Surveillance in the 1930s,” Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, v. 76 (2002): 1257-61 [in the service of New Deal efforts to save the family farm, overhead imaging becomes a tool of measurement and government surveillance—with no apparent resistance].

“The Way Cartography Was: A Snapshot of Mapping and Map Use in 1900,” Historical Geography 28 (2000): 157–78 (with Elizabeth Puhl) [a cursory base-line for evaluating cartographic change in the twentieth century].

“The Three R’s of GIS-Based Site Selection: Representation, Resistance, and Ridicule,” in D. R. Fraser Taylor, ed., Policy Issues in Modern Cartography (Kidlington, Oxford: Pergamon, 1998), 233–47 [local people can resist the presumed power of data-rich predators].

“Temporal Generalization for Dynamic Maps,” Cartography and Geographic Information Systems 23 (1996): 96–98 [cartographic generalization has a neglected time dimension].

“Using SUSS to Resolve NIMBY: How Spatial Understanding Support Systems Can Help with the ‘Not in My Back Yard’ Syndrome,” Geographical Systems 2 (1995): 83–101 (with Helen Couclelis) [how interactive geospatial technology can minimize fear and help negotiate solutions].

“Authoring Graphic Scripts: Experiences and Principles,” Cartography and Geographic Information Systems, v. 19 (1992): 247–60, 272 [introduces the ‘graphic script’ as a narrative sequence of maps, text, and statistical graphics].

“Geographic concentration and regional trends in the book publishing industry, 1963–1987,” Publishing Research Quarterly 8.3 (1992): 62–71 (with George Schnell) [asks “What can the Census of Manufactures tell us about the geography of the book publishing industry?”].

“Directional Profiles and Rose Diagrams to Complement Centrographic Cartography,” Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 66 (1992): 29–34 [exploratory analysis of spatial data might benefit from an enhanced form of summary graphics].

“Graphically Encoded Knowledge Bases for Expert-Guided Feature Generalization in Cartographic Display Systems,” International Journal of Expert Systems: Research and Applications 3 (1990): 65–71 [small-scale generalizations, including deliberate caricatures, are a form of spatial knowledge useful in guiding automated generalization].

“Newspaper Circulation Areas in Central New York: a Geographic Refinement of the Umbrella Hypothesis,” Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 64.1 (1990): 46–51 [field work that confirms a spatial theory in communications economics also reveals significant secondary influences; a spin-off of the Guggenheim-funded journalistic cartography project].

“Regionalizing and Matching Features for Interpolated Displacement in the Automated Generalization of Digital Cartographic Databases,” Cartographica 26.2 (1989): 21–39 [automated generalization of line features using an existing smaller-scale representation as a guide].

“Geographic Brushing: Enhancing Exploratory Analysis of the Scatterplot Matrix,” Geographical Analysis 21 (1989): 81–84 [initial foray into interactive exploratory data analysis].

“Raster-Mode Area Generalization for Land Use and Land Cover Maps,” Cartographica 20.4 (1983): 65–91 [exploring area generalization while everyone else is looking at line generalization].

“Topographic Map Coverage of Pennsylvania: a Study in Cartographic Evolution,” Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 56.1 (1982): 61–66 [the history of cartography meets historical geography].

“Flat Laxity, Optimization, and Rounding in the Selection of Class Intervals,” Cartographica 19.1 (1982): 16–27 [given a numerical measurement of ‘goodness’, the ‘best’ solution might not be much better than numerous nearly as good solutions with other merits].

“Street Maps and Private-Sector Map Making: a Case Study of Two Firms.” Cartographica 18.3 (1981): 34–52 [a look at spatial competition and entrepreneurial style; the history of cartography meets economic geography].

“The Hopeless Pursuit of Purification in Cartographic Communication: a Comparison of Graphic-Arts and Perceptual Distortions of Graytone Symbols,” Cartographica 17.1 (1980): 24–39 [an early nail in the psychophysical coffin].

“Viewing Azimuth and Map Clarity,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 68 (1978): 180–95 [senior faculty considered an article in the Annals essential for promotion to full professor, so . . . ].

“Maximum-Difference Barriers: an Alternative Numerical Regionalization Method,” Geographical Analysis 5 (1973): 245–61 [the “Monmonier algorithm,” as discussed in Franz Manni, Etienne Guérard, and Evelyne Heyer, “Geographic Patterns of (Genetic, Morphologic, Linguistic) Variation: How Barriers Can Be Detected by Using Monmonier’s Algorithm,” Human Biology 76 (2004): 173-90].

“Digitized Map Measurement and Correlation Applied to an Example in Crop Ecology,” Geographical Review 61 (1971): 51–71 [an early application of computerized overlay analysis and digital elevation and land-cover maps anticipates GIS].

Teaching Appointments

1998—, Distinguished Professor of Geography
1979-98, Professor of Geography
1973-79, Associate Professor of Geography
1970-73, Assistant Professor [State University of New York at Albany]
1969-70, Assistant Professor [University of Rhode Island] 

Research Interests

Geographic Information and Society: critical examination of maps as analytical and persuasive tools in homeland security, journalism, politics, public administration, and science; legal and ethical issues in intellectual property, liability, privacy, and public access; mapping policy at the state and national levels.

History of Cartography in the Twentieth Century: critical analysis of map use in a historical context; historical geography of mapping; technological and societal influences on cartographic form and content; historiography of cartography. Editor, Volume Six (the Twentieth Century), History of Cartography [research currently sponsored by a grant from the Science and Technology Studies Program, National Science Foundation].

Map Design: creative and expository uses of cartographic generalization, map projection, and retinal variables; multimedia and internet cartography; coordination of maps and statistical graphics.

Environmental Cartography: risk mapping of natural and technological hazards; coastal and meteorological cartography; geographic analysis and the siting of locally objectionable facilities; historical and contemporary mapping of lake-effect snow. 

Research Grants and Awards

Mercator Medal, German Cartographic Society, September 2009.

Charles E. Hosler Alumni Scholar Medal, The Pennsylvania State University, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, April 2007.

Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography, for Spying with Maps (2002), Association of American Geographers, March 2004.

Award of Distinction for Exceptional Scholarly Contribution to the Field of Cartography, Canadian Cartographic Association, May 2002.

O. M. Miller Medal, “for outstanding contributions in the field of cartography,” American Geographical Society, March 2001.

Distinguished Geographer Award, Pennsylvania Geographical Society, October 2000.

Media Achievement Award, “for monographs, articles, and newspaper reports that have engaged the interest of non-geographers and geographers in the design, construction, and interpretation of maps,” Association of American Geographers, April 2000.

Appointed Distinguished Professor of Geography, Syracuse University, February 1998.

Centennial Fellow, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, October 1996.

Chancellor’s Citation for Exceptional Academic Achievement, Syracuse University, February 1993.

Guggenheim Fellowship, 1984-85. 

External research grants from Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation (December 2007 to May 2008, $22,000; May 2011 to May 2012, $12,000), National Library of Medicine (July 2003, $5,800), National Science Foundation (October 1980 to September 1983, $4,723; April 1987 to March 1989, $50,454; June 1991 to November 1993, $74,999; September 1999 to August 2002, $109,931; September 2003 to August 2008, $296,622; September 2008 to August 2013, $355,130), New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (September 1989 to August 1990, $24,299), New York State Center for Advanced Technology in Computer  Application and Software Engineering (July 1989 to June 1990, $19,990), and University of Wisconsin—Madison (July 1998 to June 1999, $25,384).

Recent Invited Lectures

“The Twentieth Century as an Era in Map History: Tipping Point or Merely Distinctive?” on May 15, 2014, in Washington, DC, as keynote speaker for the conference “From Terra to Terabytes: The History of 20th Century Cartography and Beyond,” 15– 16 May sponsored by the Philip Lee Phillips Map Society of the Library of Congress.

“Coastal Cartography’s Four Shorelines: From Christopher Columbus to Hurricane Sandy,” on April 4, 2014, in Stony Brook, NY, at Stony Brook University, as guest speaker in the Humanities for the Environment series, at the Humanities Institute.

“Designing the Political Cartography of the Oceans,” on February 21, 2014, in Cambridge, MA, at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, for The Ocean Turn: An Advanced Landscape Infrastructure Seminar.

“The ‘Critical Turn’ in Cartography: New Direction or Unsafe Lane Change,” on October 4, 2013, in Passau, Germany, as an invited paper in a special session on critical cartography, at Deutscher Geographentag 2013.

“Persuasive Cartography: Using Maps to Influence Opinion and Control Behavior,” on August 5, 2013, at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, NH, as a public lecture co-sponsored by Dartmouth Digital Humanities and the Department of Geography.

“Innovation and Inertia in Thematic Mapping: Examples from Atmospheric and Census Cartography,” on October 21, 2012, in Princeton, NJ, as opening lecture for “First X, Then Y, Now Z,” an exhibit on the history of thematic mapping at Princeton University’s Firestone Library.

“Mercator’s Projection: Milestone, Steppingstone, and Millstone,” on September 14, 2012, as the tenth Douglas Clay Ridgeley Distinguished Lecturer, in the Department of Geography-Geology at Illinois State University, Normal, IL. 

“The Mercator Projection and Its Impact, Adoption, Controversy, and Survival from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day,” on April 27, 2012, in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium, as keynote speaker at the conference “Mercator Revisited: Cartography in the Age of Discovery,” sponsored by Universiteit Gent and the International Cartographic Association. 

“Mercator’s World Map: Contribution and Controversy,” on March 10, 2012, in New York City, for the New York Map Society and the New York Public Library, Mid-Manhattan Branch.

“Mercator’s Projection: Conformality, Scale, and Controversy,” on March 1, 2012, in Essen, Germany, as keynote speaker at the conference Gerhard Mercator: Wissenschaft und Wissenstransfer [Gerard Mercator: Science and Knowledge Transfer], sponsored by Stiftung Mercator [the Mercator Foundation], Germany’s third largest private foundation.

“Air Apparent: Rotating Storms, Lake-Effect Snow, and Two Hundred Years of Meteorological Cartography,” on November 4, 2011, in Hamilton, NY, in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Colloquium Series, Colgate University“The Cartographic Recognition of the Great Lakes Snowbelts,” on March 23, 2011, in Ithaca, NY, at the 19th U.S.-Canadian Great Lakes Operational Meteorology Workshop; sponsored by NOAA, Environment Canada, and Cornell University.

“Fear and Loathing in Geopolitics: Cartographies of Pretension and Persuasion,” on November 12, 2010, in Williamsburg, VA, in the Geopolitics Fall Lecture Series, sponsored by the Reves Center for International Studies and the Department of Government at the College of William and Mary.

“Coastlines, Boundary Lines, and the Cartographies of Protection and Control,” on November 20, 2009, in Minneapolis, MN, at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, as the annual John Borchert Lecture, held in concert with the university’s GIS Day and Geography Awareness Week activities.

“Persuasive Cartography in the Era of the Internet,” on May 30, 2008, in Barcelona, Spain, as closing keynote speaker at II Congrés Català de Geografia (Second Catalan Geographic Conference).

“Mapping Hazards in America: Earthquakes, Coastal Storms, and Sea Level Rise,” on March 12, 2008, in New York, at the New York Society for Ethical Culture; co-sponsored by the New York Map Society.

“Sea Level Rise, Environmental Risk, and Rhetorical Cartography,” on November 4, 2007, in Chicago, IL, in the Mapping and Global Environment panel at the Newberry Library as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival.

“The Four Shorelines of Coastal Cartography: From Navigation Tool to Inundation Forecast,” on July 12, 2007, in Berne, Switzerland, at the International Conference on the History of Cartography.

“Cartography in the Twentieth Century: A Progress Report on Volume Six of the History of Cartography,” on March 9, 2006, in Chicago, IL, at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers.

“Cartography after 1900 and the Design of Cartography in the Twentieth Century,” on July 18, 2005, in Budapest, Hungary, at the 21st International Conference on the History of Cartography.

“Geographic Aspects of Location Tracking with RFID and GPS,” on October 14, 2004, in Chicago, IL, at the symposium Privacy and Identity: The Promise and Perils of a Technological Age, sponsored by the Center for Intellectual Property Law and Information Technology, at DePaul University.

“Maps as Graphic Propaganda for Public Health,” on October 17, 2003, in Bethesda, MD, on the campus of the National Institutes of Health, at the symposium Visual Culture and Public Health, sponsored by the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine.

“Practical and Emblematic Roles of the American Polyconic Projection,” on June 17, 2003, in Cambridge, MA, at the 20th International Conference on the History of Cartography.

“Cartographies of Surveillance,” on May 24, 2003, at the workshop “Maps: Here, Then, Now” held in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and sponsored by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia.

“Geospatial Technology, Racial Politics, and the Supreme Court’s Equal-Population Constraint: A Recipe for Bizarre Boundaries?” on April 24, 2003, in Philadelphia, PA, at the Annenberg School for Communication, for a lecture the Racial Statistics Seminar series.

“Maps in Meteorology: Historical Roots and Cartographically Exceptional Map-Use Environment,” on March 29, 2003, in Providence, RI, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Environmental History.

"Best and Worst Uses of Mapping," on March 14, 2002, in Philadelphia, PA at the 2002 National Computer-Assisted Reporting (CAR) Conference.

“Redistricting in the Electronic Age: Bushmanders and Bullwinkles,” on 10 December 2001, in Indianapolis, IN, at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, for the Fourth Bulen Symposium on American Politics.

“Maps in the Media: News, Factoids, Explanations, and Entertainment,” at the Second Virginia Garrett Lectures (and as keynote address for the annual meeting of the Texas Map Society), on 6 October 2000, in Arlington, TX, at the University of Texas at Arlington.

“Cartographic Narratives, Openness, and the New Technology,” at the Thirteenth Kenneth Nebenzahl, Jr., Lectures in the History of Cartography [theme: Narrative and Maps: Historical Studies of Cartographic Storytelling], on 30 October 1999, in Chicago, IL, at the Newberry Library.

“Cartographies of Danger: Hazard-Zone Mapping in the United States,” on 5 April 1995, in Milwaukee, WI, as the 1995 Arthur Holzheimer Lecture at the Golda Meir Library, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Keynote, luncheon, or banquet speaker at GIS meetings in Champaign-Urbana, IL (GIS and Libraries, 1995), Stevenson, WA (Northwest ARC/INFO Users Conference, 1996), Harrisburg, PA (Pennsylvania Geographic Information Systems Conference, 1997), Denver, CO (National Symposium on the Use of GIS in Criminal Justice Research and Practice, 1997), Lincoln, NE (Mid America GIS Symposium, 1998), St. Cloud, MN (Minnesota GIS/LIS Conference, 1998), Winston-Salem, NC (North Carolina Geographic Information Systems Conference, 1999), Baltimore, MD (Towson University’s Annual Geographic Information Sciences Conference, 2000), Skaneateles, NY (NASA's Regional Application Center for the Northeast, 2001), Waterloo, Ontario (Canadian Cartographic Association, annual meeting, 2002), Columbus, OH (North American Cartographic Information Society, annual meeting, 2002), Albany, NY (19th annual New York State Geographic Information Systems Conference, 2003), Iowa City, IA (Prostate Cancer Geocoding Conference, 2004), Vancouver, BC (2005 Geo Tec Event), Helena, MT (Intermountain GIS Conference, 2006), Danvers, MA (New England GIS Conference, 2006), and Ithaca, NY (Cornell University’s 2006 GIS Day).

Geography colloquium, banquet, or featured Geography Awareness Week speaker at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (1995), Pennsylvania State University (1995), University of Connecticut (1996), Rutgers University (1997), University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1998), University of Nebraska-Omaha (1998), University of Oklahoma (1999-featured speaker for Geosciences Week, with additional lectures in the departments of geology and meteorology), Microsoft Corporation (1999), Ohio State University (2001), Central Michigan University (2003), University of Southern Maine (2003), University of California at Santa Barbara (2004), the Pennsylvania State University (2006), Kent State University (2006), West Virginia University (2008), State University of New York at Buffalo (2008), and University of California—Berkeley (2011).

Additional invited lectures at Cambridge, MA (Adventure Travel Lecture Series, Globe Corner Bookstore, 1998), New Brunswick, NJ (School of Communication, Information and Library Science, Rutgers University, 1998), Palisades, NY (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory/Columbia University, 2000), Troy, NY (School of Architecture, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2000), Wilkes-Barre, PA (Middle States Division, Association of American Geographers, 2000), Chicago, IL (The Newberry Library, NEH-sponsored summer institute, 2001), Santa Fe, NM (Santa Fe Art Institute, 2002), Clinton, NY (Hamilton College—HILL [Hamilton Information and Learning Liaisons] Group, 2003), Grantville, PA (Pennsylvania Academy of Science, annual banquet, 2003), Fayetteville, NY (Syracuse Chapter of Sigma Xi, annual banquet, 2003), Syracuse, NY (CNY Skeptics, 2004), New York, NY (Discussion Across Disciplines: An Academic Roundtable, at the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate, Columbia University, 2004), DeWitt, NY (DeWitt Rotary Club, 2007), Fayetteville, NY (Syracuse Chapter of Sigma Xi, annual banquet, 2008), Philadelphia, PA (The.Hyperlinked.Society conference at the Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania, 2006), Palymra, NY (Wayne County League of Women Voters, 2011), and Syracuse, NY (Syracuse Showcase [SU] session on Visualizing Climate Change, 2011).



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