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University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Cartographies of Danger is one of two books examined in a master’s thesis by Renee Sichel Wagenseil (M.A. in Professional Communication, 2001, Clemson University). A student of science writing, Wagenseil titled her thesis “The Function of Ethos and Pathos in Popular Science Writing: A Rhetorical Analysis of Mark Monmonier and Oliver Sacks.“ Her observations include:

“. . . Using a framework of classical Aristotelian rhetoric, this thesis explores the writing of two successful author-scientists, cartographer Mark Monmonier and neurologist Oliver Sacks, in order to answer the question of how a scientist writing for public audiences communicates successfully. Monmonier’s method is to interject into otherwise highly technical discussions, comments that reduce math anxiety, anecdotes about his family, long asides to describe personalities, and vignettes that demystify authority and these appeals to pathos diffuse the public’s fear of science.” (abstract)

“Monmonier’s appeals to logos are an essential part of communicating his topic. As a scientist and science writer Monmonier knows that his audience expects and respects a strong logical argument, and thus grounds all his assertions with evidence. . . .” (p. 18)

“In Cartographies of Danger Monmonier takes on a subject that could easily put off a wary public. . . .” (p. 24)

“. . . Here the author connects with the reader through the shared emotion of fear. Monmonier is a real person, not a distant and elusive expert and he is as vulnerable to nature as the reader.” (p. 26)
“Monmonier also encourages his readers to see that those in authority don’t have all the answers . . .” (p. 33)

“. . . By showing science as a human endeavor, Monmonier establishes an emotional climate of belief and trust that eases the public’s frustration with the complex and contradictory nature of the discipline.” (35)

“. . . Monmonier provided a human context for risk analysis that allows a lay audience to appreciate both the science and the scientists involved.” (p. 54)

“Monmonier’s writing clearly serves to celebrate as well as illuminate the workings of science and scientists because he presents a view that is realistic, yet positive. . . .” (p. 60)

“It is important to note that Monmonier and Sacks, though privileged insiders they may be, share with their readers a stance towards the status quo that helps us overcome an uncritical acceptance of the monolith of science in it s many manifestations. Monmonier clearly questions the scientific perspective of many government agencies; Sack continually questions standard views of normalcy. . . .” (p. 60)