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Mark Monmonier

Mark Monmonier

Contact Information:


318 Maxwell Hall

Mark Monmonier

Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Geography and the Environment Department


Fall 2019:

Research Leave

Spring 2020:

GEO 314 Hazardous Geographic Environments

GEO 381 Cartographic Design


Highest degree earned

Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, 1969


Mark Monmonier, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Geography and the Environment at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. His current research focuses on the history of cartography in the twentieth century, in particular, a biography of John Byron Plato (1876-1966), inventor of the Clock System, a clever strategy for giving farmers a "real address" akin to the street addresses of city dwellers. He has also written extensively on the use of maps for surveillance and as analytical and persuasive tools in environmental science, journalism, politics and public administration. He teaches classes on map design, environmental cartography and graduate-level research design.

Monmonier has authored 20 books, including "How to Lie with Maps;" "Air Apparent: How Meteorologists Learned to Map, Predict, and Dramatize Weather;" "Bushmanders and Bullwinkles: How Politicians Manipulate Electronic Maps and Census Data to Win Elections; "Spying with Maps: Surveillance Technologies and the Future of Privacy;" "Rhumb Lines and Map Wars: A Social History of the Mercator Projection;" "From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name," Claim, and Inflame;" "Coast Lines: How Mapmakers Frame the World and Chart Environmental Change;" "No Dig, No Fly, No Go: How Maps Restrict and Control;" "Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows;" "Adventures in Academic Cartography: A Memoir;" "Patents and Cartographic Inventions: A New Perspective for Map History;" and "Connections and Content: Reflections on Networks and the History of Cartography."

Monmonier authored the first general textbook on computer-assisted cartography (Prentice-Hall, 1982) and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1984. An early invention now known as the Monmonier Algorithm is an important research tool for geographic studies in linguistics and genetics. He has been editor of The American Cartographer and president of the American Cartographic Association, and he has published numerous papers on map design, automated map analysis, cartographic generalization, the history of cartography, statistical graphics and mass communications. Other areas of expertise reflected in his various writings include extreme weather, flood mapping, sea-level rise, map projections, political redistricting and racially offensive or otherwise controversial geographic names.

Monmonier has served on advisory panels for the National Research Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and was editor of "Cartography in the Twentieth Century," published in April 2015 by the University of Chicago Press as Volume Six of the "History of Cartography" series. For diverse contributions to cartography, he was awarded the American Geographical Society’s O. M. Miller Medal in 2001, the Pennsylvania State University’s Charles L. Hosler Alumni Scholar Medal in 2007, and the German Cartographic Society’s Mercator Medal in 2009. In 2016 he was inducted into URISA's GIS Hall of Fame.

Areas of Expertise

Geographic information (technology, policy and societal role), history of cartography in the 20th century (esp. innovation and intellectual property), map design, environmental mapping

Research Grant Awards and Projects

National Science Foundation, funded by the Geography and the Spatial Sciences (GSS) Program and the Science, Technology and Society Program (STS), sponsor award no. 1461551, “Patents, Cartographic Inventors, and a New Perspective for Map History,” 1 August 2015 to 31 January 2018, $68,363. One product of this research, a book titled “Patents and Cartographic Inventors: A New Perspective on Map History,” will be published in 2017.

Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, grant to support a research assistant for Volume Six of the History of Cartography, May 2011 to May 2012, $12,000.

National Science Foundation, funded by the Science and Society Program and the Geography and Regional Science Program, No. SES-0749687, “Collaborative Research: History of Cartography in the Twentieth Century,” 1 September 2008 to 31 August 2013, $355,130.   

Selected Publications

Books (since 2004)

Connections and Content: Reflections on Networks and the History of Cartography (Redlands, CA: Esri Press, 2019).

How to Lie with Maps, 3rd ed., revised and expanded (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018).

Patents and Cartographic Inventions: A New Perspective for Map History [In the series Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology] (New York and London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

Adventures in Academic Cartography: A Memoir  (Syracuse, NY: Bar Scale Press; Amazon, 2016).

Cartography in the Twentieth Century [volume 6 of the History of Cartography] (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).

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).

Additional Recent Writings (since 2010)

“Motives for Patenting a Map Projection: Did Fame Trump Fortune?” Cartographic Journal, 55. 2 (May 2018): 196–202.

“Hunches and Hopes.” Chapter 40 in Alexander J. Kent and Peter Vujakovic, eds., The Routledge Handbook on Mapping and Cartography (London: Routledge, 2018), pp. 539–47.

“Cartography: History.” In Douglas Richardson, Noel Castree, Michael F. Goodchild, Audrey Kobayashi, Weidong Liu, and Richard A. Marston, eds., The International Encyclopedia of Geography (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2017), 12 pp. DOI: 10.1002/9781118786352.wbieg0359.

“Innovation and Inertia in Statistical Mapping in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century America.” In Miles A. Kimball and Charles Kostelnick, eds., Visible Numbers: Essays on the History of Statistical Graphics (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2016), pp. 107–26.

“Twentieth-Century Themes for Progressive Map Collections.” Cartographic Perspectives, no. 81 (2016): 38–43.  

Seventeen entries in Cartography in the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015): “Agricultural Adjustment Administration (U.S.),” 30–31 / “Atlas: Facsimile Atlas,” 90–92 / “Canada Geographic Information System,” 189–90 / “Cartographic Duplicity in the German Democratic Republic,” 197–200 / “Census Mapping” [with information from Robert Marx], 207–12 / “Coastal Mapping,” 235–39 / “Electronic Cartography: Conferences on Computer-aided Mapping in North America and Europe,” 386–87 / “Electronic Cartography: Display Hardware,” 370–71 / “Facilities Map,” 424–25 / “Geographical Mapping,” 521–24 / “Landscape Architecture and Cartography,” 758–60 / “Mercator Projection,” 870–72 / “Metric System,” 877–78 / “Miller, O(sborn) M(aitland),” 977–78 / “Paper” [co-authored with John H. Cameron], 1048–49 / “Remote Sensing: Data Handling and Information Extraction from Remotely Sensed Imagery” [co-authored with Gerald Kinn], 1288–94 / “Styles, Cartographic,” 1471–73.

“Graphic Narratives for Emergency Mapping” In Graham A. Tobin and Burrell E. Montz, eds., Evolving Approaches to Understanding Natural Hazards (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015), pp. 169–77.

“Mercators Projektion: Konformität, Maßstab und Kontroverse” [Mercator’s projection: conformality, scale, and controversy]. In Ute Schneider and Stefan Brakensiek, eds., Gerhard Mercator: Wissenschaft und Wissenstransfer. (Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2015), pp. 231–45.

“The Cartographic Discovery of the Great Lakes Snowbelts.” In History of Cartography, Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography [History of Cartography: International Symposium of the ICA, 2012], eds. Elri Liebenberg, Peter Collier, and Zsolt Gyozo Torok. (Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag. 2014), pp. 235–49. 

"Maps that say “No!”—the Rise of Prohibitive Cartography." In Todd W. Kenreich, ed., Geography and Social Justice in the Classroom (New York: Routledge, 2013), pp. 26–39.

"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.

Presentations and Events

“Patents and Plato: Map-related Patents in General, and One Clever Inventor in Particular,” on April 12, 2018, at the Library of Congress, in Washington, DC, at the monthly meeting of the Washington Map Society.

“The Four Shorelines of Coastal Cartography,” on May 2, 2017, in Boston, MA, at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, in the lecture series Regions and Seasons: Mapping Climate through History, presented in partnership with the Boston Map Society.

“Cartography in the Twentieth Century: Revolutions, Stories, and Inventions,” on November 17, 2015, in Burlington, VT, at the University of Vermont, in the Dan and Carole Burack President’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

"Geographic Names: Roles, Rhetoric, and Resistance,” on September 18, 2015, in Washington, DC, at the U.S. Library of Congress, as keynote address at the symposium Traditions and Transitions: Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

"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.

Previous 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]