In the course of my scholarly and academic research and exploration there have been several books that I consider revelatory and have helped shaped the course of my own research and areas of interest
In the field of Tolkien studies I would say these three books are: Dr. Verlyn Flieger's Splintered Light: Logos and Light in Tolkien's World (1983 revised 2002) Thomas A. Shippey's The Road to Middle-earth (1982 revised 2012) and Dr. Dimitra Fimi's Tolkien, Race and Cultural History - From Fairies to Hobbits (2008) (and very lucky me Dimitra became my PhD supervisor and we went on to co-edit A Secret Vice Tolkien on Language Invention published by HarperCollins in 2016)
Since reading Professor Wolf's 2012 monograph I have been a great admirer of the work he has been doing to explore the world's behind fictional texts in their broadest sense (from narratives, films, television shows to video games and amusement parks). For me this opened up a whole next vista in looking at a text and added to my thinking in my primary Tolkien research and studies which tends to focus on how Tolkien used invented languages combined with myth-making to build his world of Middle-earth.
Professor Wolf has also gone on to bring together scholars to explore the role of world-building. This included the volume Revisiting Imaginary Worlds: A Sub-creation Studies Anthology published by Routledge in 2017 which included a brilliant chapter by Dr. Dimitra Fimi on The Past as an Imaginary World: The Case of Medievalism which compares and contrasts the medieval world-building of Thomas Chatterton, Umberto Eco and J.R.R. Tolkien. I was very excited to review both the 2012 monograph and this volume for The Journal of Tolkien Research
I first got to work with Professor Wolf when he asked Dimitra and I to contribute a chapter on 'Invented Languages' in the 2018 The Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds. It was around this time that I heard that he was planning another collected volume of exploring world-building in fictional texts and I jumped at the chance to be a part of this one.
Sympathetic Vampires (long before Angel and Edward), werewolves, witches, time travel, Lovecraftian leviathans, parallel time - this trans-medial story-world has it all and I wanted my chapter in this volume to be a scholarly exploration using those ideas and thoughts that I learned from Professor Wolf's excellent work to explore the gothic world-building of Dark Shadows. It was an incredible exploration and along the way I discovered the vast and varied soup of gothic, horror, and weird stories that Dan Curtis and his team or writers dipped into to create the narratives of this world.
This new volume has just been published and has some brilliant chapters - here is the table of contents - hope you enjoy mine and many others explorations of the world's beyond the texts we read, watch, experience and play in - and I am looking forward to more exploration!