Justin Ness, Ph.D.

Continuing Lecturer

Justin Ness


Justin Ness is a lecturer in the Department of English and World Languages. His research foci are on how novels and films structurally create, maintain and terminate interest in their readers/audiences as well as the evolution(s) of narrative form.

Research Overview

Ness’s current research addresses the narratological function of the “jump scare” in horror films as well as the historical nexus at which the term “horror” became a signifier for literature thematically similar but culturally inferior to “gothic.”

I have observed that many people, even scary-movie enthusiasts, have a particularly strong aversion to one horror sub-genre or another. For me, it’s “possessed doll” films: as soon as I see Chucky’s feet scampering across the carpet, my own feet are hurrying toward a different room!

Teaching Focus

Ness teaches courses on English composition, narrative theory and the evolution of the horror film.

Justin Ness


(219) 989-2646


Office Location:

Hammond, CLO 288


  • Ph.D. – English Literature, Northern Illinois University
  • M.A. – British & American Literature, Northern Illinois University
  • B.A. – Biblical Studies / Biblical Languages, North Central University (Minneapolis, MN)

Areas of Expertise

  • Narrative Theory
  • The 20th-century English-language Novel
  • Genre Literature

Credentials, Accreditations & Awards

  • 2019 – Harlan R. Teller Dissertation Award, Northern Illinois University – “Why We Turn the Page: A Literary Theory of Dynamic Structuralism”
  • 2017 – Best Presentation Award, International Conference on Language, Literature and Linguistics, London – “Toward a Theory of Narrative Interest: Story Interest in Doyle’s ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band’”