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Janet McCracken

Janet McCracken

Professor of Philosophy


Areas of Specialization

Aesthetics; History of Philosophy: ancient Greek and early modern; Film Studies; Philosophy of Humans and Animals; Environmental Ethics and Aesthetics; Gender Studies


PhD University of Texas at Austin
MA University of Texas at Austin
BA Vassar College

Selected Courses Taught

Philosophy/Environmental Studies 210: Environmental Ethics

Cinema Studies 175: Introduction to Film Studies
MLS Seminar: Sound and Image
AMER 200/400: The West in Washington and Hollywood
Philosophy 115: Worth: Philosophy and Economics
Philosophy 156: Logic and Styles of Argument
Philosophy 200: Philosophy and Gender
Philosophy 245/FIYS 180: Philosophy of Humans and Animals
Philosophy 260: Aesthetics
Philosophy 290: Ancient Greek Philosophy
Philosophy 291: Descartes to Kant
Philosophy 301: Romantic Comedies and Philosophy of Love
Philosophy 304: Philosophy of Film

Selected Honors and Administrative Positions

The Great Teacher Award, elected by the senior class, 2020

Director, The Ethics Center at Lake Forest College, 2019-

Trustee Award for Teaching Excellence, Lake Forest College, 2018

Co-leader, “Considering Animals,” ACM Seminar in Advanced Interdisciplinary Learning, Washington DC, July 2012

Krebs Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Lake Forest College, July 2005-2011

Associate Dean of the Faculty, Lake Forest College, July 2000-July 2002

Bird Award for Intellectual Contributions to the Campus Community,
Lake Forest College, September 20, 2001

William L. Dunn Award for Teaching and Scholarly Promise, Lake Forest
College, 1996

Gustave E. Beerly, Jr. Assistant Professorship, 1995-99

Texas Exes Award for Excellence in Assistant Teaching, University of Texas, 1990

Selected Publications

Taste and the Household: The “Domestic Aesthetic” and Moral Reasoning. author (State University of New York Press, October 2001)

Thinking About Gender: A Historical Anthology. editor and commentary. (Harcourt-Brace College Publishers, 1997)

Book Chapters

“Why We Love Our Phones: A Case Study in the Aesthetics of Gadgets” (tentative title).  Comparative Everyday Aesthetics . Eds. Jeffery Petts and Eva Man, Amsterdam Univerity Press, 2022. Forthcoming.

Perry Mason as Greek Tragedy: the Eternal Allure of Aristotle.”  Perry Mason and Philosophy. ed. by Robert Arp. Open Court.

“Grief and the Memnonics of Place: A Thank You Note,” in  Passion, Death, and Spirituality: The Philosophy of Robert C. Solomon (Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures). Edited by Kathleen Higgins and David Sherman. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2012

The Aesthetics of Playtime Recycling,” in  The Aesthetics of Human Environments. Edited by Arnold Berleant and Allen Carlson. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2007.  Based on a presentation, “Recycling Aesthetics,”  (American Society for Aesthetics Fall 2002 Conference, October 31, 2002.)  

“Domestic Aesthetics,” contribution to  Aesthetics in Perspective. Edited by Kathleen M. Higgins. Ft. Worth: Harcourt-Brace College Publishers, 1995.

“Persian Philosophy” (with Homayoon Sepasi), chapter of  From Africa to Zen: An Introduction to World Philosophy. Edited by Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1993; 2nd edition, 2003.


The Non-Western of the New West.”  Film & History, vol. 44, no. 2 (Fall 2014): 82-87.

Dogs and Birds in Plato.”  Philosophy and Literature, vol. 38, no. 2 (October 2014): 446-61.

Falsely, Sanely, Shallowly: Reflections on the Special Character of Grief.”   International Journal of Applied Philosophy, vol. 19, no. 1 (2005): 139-56.

“Six Books on Design” (article length review), Buchanan, Richard, and Margolin, Victor, eds. Discovering Design: Explorations in Design Studies. (University of Chicago Press, 1995; Doordan, Dennis, ed. Design History: An Anthology (Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press, 1996; Jobling, Paul, and Crowley, David. Graphic Design: Reproduction and Representation Since 1800 (Manchester University Press, 1997); Kress, Gunther, and van Leeuwen, Theo. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design (London: Routledge, 1996); Margolin, Victor, and Buchanan, Richard, eds. The Idea of Design. (Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press, 1996); Palmer, Jerry, and Dodson, Mo, eds. Design and Aesthetics: A Reader (London: Routledge, 1996) for The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 58, no. 1 (2000): 76-80.

“Comic and Tragic Interlocutors and Socratic Method.”  Teaching Philosophy, vol. 22, no. 4 (1999): 361-75.


Review, Stern, Radu.  Against Fashion: Clothing as Art, 1850-1930. (MIT Press, 2004); Troy, Nancy J. Couture Culture: A Study in Modern Art and Fashion.  (MIT Press, 2003),  ( Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 63, no. 2, 2005).

Review Fussell, Paul.   Uniforms: Why We Are What We Wear. Houghton Mifflin,  2002. ( Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 62, no. 1, 2003).

Review, Di Battista, Maria.  Fast-Talking Dames. Yale University Press, 2001. ( Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 61, no. 4, 2003)

De la Haye, Amy, and Wilson, Elizabeth, eds .  Defining Dress: Dress as Object, Meaning and Identity.  Manchester University Press, 1999.  (Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 61, no. 1, 2003)

Review, Kenji Ekuan,  The Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998), ( Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 57, no. 4, 1999).

Selected Conference Presentations

“The Aesthetics of Playtime Recycling.” The American Society for Aesthetics, 60th annual meeting, October 31, 2002. For panel on recycling aesthetics, with Yuriko Saito, Cynthia Rostankowski, and Kathleen Higgins.

“Philosophy in Fashion and Fashion in Philosophy”, Conference, “Comparativism: Cultural Studies Across the Disciplines”, University of Texas at Austin, October 6th, 1990

Selected Talks

“Grief and the Memnonics of Place: A Thank You Note,” Talk given in honor of Robert C. Solomon, The Robert C. Solomon Memorial conference, Austin, Texas, February 16, 2008 (reprinted as above)

“Socrates, The Simpsons, and Getting in Over Your Head,” Lake Forest College Matriculation, August 30, 2000