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Adventures in Academic Cartography: A Memoir

Mark Monmonier

Bar Scale Press, December 2014

Adventures in Academic Cartography: A Memoir cover

Adventures in Academic Cartography is a personal memoir offering insight to the diverse impacts of computer technology on the world of cartography and mapping. It surveys the author’s half century of work as a scholar, educator, and editor as well as his commitment to demystifying for general readers the power of maps as a tool for understanding and persuasion.

An overview of his undergraduate and graduate training and early university employment precedes engaging accounts of his experiences as a classroom teacher; academic researcher, book author, journal editor, consultant, and editor of Cartography in the Twentieth Century (Volume Six of the monumental History of Cartography). Additional chapters reveal his views on theory, map collecting, and writing. This integrated collection of stories promotes an understanding of the many facets of academic cartography, which emerged in the twentieth century as a distinct mapping endeavor that touches geographic education, technological innovation, national defense, public policy, professional organizations, libraries, map collections, and academic and trade publishing.

Mark Monmonier pursued a vigorous career in cartographic scholarship, with faculty appointments at the University of Rhode Island, the State University of New York at Albany, and Syracuse University, where he was appointed associate professor in 1973 and promoted to professor in 1979 and distinguished professor in 1998. Electronic strategies for map design and analysis dominated his research through the mid-1990s.

He published the first general textbook on computer-aided mapping and made innovative contributions to interactive statistical graphics. An early invention now known as the Monmonier Algorithm became an important research tool for geographic studies in linguistics and genetics. An emerging curiosity about the intersection of mapping and public policy led to Technological Transition in Cartography (1985) and Spying with Maps (2002), and a growing interest in origins inspired focused histories like Air Apparent: How Meteorologists Learned to Map, Predict, and Dramatize Weather (1999) and Rhumb Lines and Map Wars: A Social History of the Mercator Projection (2004). Recognition includes an Association of American Geographers Media Achievement Award (2000), the American Geographical Society’s O. M. Miller Medal (2001), and the German Cartographic Society’s Mercator Medal (2009). He continues an active life of scholarship, currently focused on patented cartographic inventions.