By: Joshua Glenn
June 28, 2024

To idle is to work on meaningful and varied projects — and to take it easy. The title of the series refers to this self-proclaimed idler’s inability to take it easy.

HILOBROW is a noncommercial blog! The info below should not be construed as a vulgar advertisement for SEMIOVOX, MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE series, SEMIOFEST SESSIONS, GO WEST, or any of my other more-or-less profitable projects. It is merely an update on my doings and undoings — in this case, during 2Q2024.

MORE HYPOCRISY: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022 | 2023 | 1Q2024 | 2Q2024 | 3Q2024.

Also see: HILOBROW 2Q2024.


I’m cofounder of the semiotics-fueled consultancy SEMIOVOX. Our methodology provides insight and inspiration — to brand and organization strategy, marketing, design, innovation, and consumer insights teams, as well as to their agency partners — regarding the unspoken local/global “codes” that help shape perceptions of and guide behavior within product categories and/or sociocultural territories.

During 2Q2024, our projects included (but were not limited to) the following.

  • BRITISH-NESS CODES: Via the UK strategic insight agency Craft, we analyzed codes of British-ness — as surfaced from UK (and non-UK) scripted TV series and movies, many hours of which we enjoyed viewing in January and February. It was fun to collaborate with Ramona Lyons (Lucid Semiotics), who analyzed non-scripted and children’s series and movies. Content-creation and marketing optimization.
  • CIVIL WAR & OLD WEST CODES: Via Labbrand Paris, Ramona Lyons and I collaborated on an audit of Civil War and Old West codes — on behalf of an action-adventure videogame franchise. This involved closely analyzing many Civil War-, Reconstruction-, Western-, and revisionist Western-themed movies and shows. (Semiovox’s sister agency, Consumer Eyes, conducted consumer research.)
  • MULTI-SENSORIALITY: As previously noted, during 2023 I oversaw a multi-market study of Multisensorial Experience codes on behalf of an international beverage company. (Semiovox’s sister agency, Consumer Eyes, conducted consumer research.) As our report has circulated within the company, we’ve been invited to continue consulting around how to optimize communications globally. Marketing and pack optimization.

For more info, see: SEMIOVOX 2Q2024.



Josh presenting at Semiofest Porto (May 23rd)

On May 23rd, I presented at SEMIOFEST — a biannual conference of commercial semioticians — in Porto (Portugal). This year’s theme was “liminality.” Semiofest is always a memorable, moving, and fun event; I’m grateful to my colleagues Sónia Marques and Susanna Fránek, and to their hard-working Porto team, for organizing this year’s gathering.

Slide from Josh’s presentation, “Liminality in Fantasy Narratives,” presented at Semiofest Porto on May 23rd, 2024.

My Porto talk offered an analysis of how liminality operates structurally (vis-à-vis the “G-schema” I’ve developed) within fantasy narratives… and hypothesized that every narrative may, in fact, be a fantasy narrative.


During the Spring semester, I served as a guest thesis advisor for five MID (Master of Industrial Design) students. In early May, I attended a dozen or so final thesis presentations — by my own advisees, plus many of my other students from the Fall semester. I’m excited to return to campus to teach in September….


RISD UNBOUND is an annual event celebrating artists’ books, zines, and experimental printed matter created by RISD students and community, local artists and designers, as well as publishers, artists, designers, and enthusiasts from across the region. I was on the planning committee for this year’s fair — which was on April 6th, at the RISD Fleet Library.


I’m editor of the MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE proto-sf reissue series.

During 2Q2024, I worked with the MITP editorial team to get our first two 2025 titles — J.D. Beresford’s THE HAMPDENSHIRE WONDER (with a new introduction by Ted Chiang) and John Taine’s THE GREATEST ADVENTURE (with a new introduction by S.L. Huang) — copy-edited, proofed, and ready to go to press. Seth’s covers are in; they’re terrific, as you can see above.

Our other 2025 titles — Marietta Shaginyan’s MESS-MEND: YANKEES IN PETROGRAD (translated from Russian and introduced by Jill Roese), and a not-yet-titled collection of superhuman-themed story and novel excerpts (edited and introduced by yours truly) — also inched their way toward the production stream during this period.

I also assigned introductory essays for two of our four 2026 titles, and I’m working with Noah Springer to pitch two additional 2026 titles to the MITP editorial board.

For recent press about the series, see this post’s GOOD VIBRATIONS section.

RADIUM AGE series updates: 2022 | 2023 | 1Q2024 | 2Q2024. FULL SERIES INFO.


Here at HILOBROW, I’ve continued to share my Radium Age-related research. For example, via the series RADIUM AGE POETRY and RADIUM AGE ART, I’ve shared proto-sf-adjacent poems and art works from the years 1900–1935.

Jacob Epstein’sThe Rock Drill (1913–1914, cast 1962)

Here’s the 2Q2024 RADIUM AGE ART lineup:

1909 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913 | 1914 | 1915 | 1916 | 1917.


Also, here’s a sampling of the 2Q2024 RADIUM AGE POETRY lineup:

Kenneth Rexroth’s “HEAVEN IS FULL OF DEFINITE STARS…” | Leslie Pinckney Hill’s ARMAGEDDON | Wallace Stevens’s THE IDEA OF A COLONY | Adele Gloria’s EXPRESS TRAIN NO. 89 | Valery Bryusov’s THE DAYS SHALL COME OF FINAL DESOLATION | Aleksei Kruchenykh’s “I COOKED MY BRAIN…” | Gertrude Stein’s A CARAFE, THAT IS A BLIND GLASS.

To see the full RADIUM AGE POETRY lineup, visit this page.


HILOBROW is published by King Mixer LLC; I’m the editor. To see everything that we’ve published recently, please check out the post HILOBROW 2Q2024. Here, I’ll just mention one series that I edited.

Richard E. Grant in Withnail and I

REPO YOUR ENTHUSIASM is a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of “offbeat” movies from the Eighties (1984–1993, in our periodization scheme). Here’s a sampling of the series lineup:

Mandy Keifetz on BODY DOUBLE | Carlo Rotella on ROBOCOP | Marc Weidenbaum on GROUNDHOG DAY | Erik Davis on REPO MAN | Mimi Lipson on STRANGER THAN PARADISE | Josh Glenn on HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING | Susan Roe on HOUSEKEEPING | Gordon Dahlquist on SOMETHING WILD

As the REPO series editor, I’m very grateful to the series’ contributors, many of whom donated their honoraria to Covenant House, which provides housing and supportive services to youth facing homelessness.


To see my solo HILOBROW series and posts from 2Q2024, please check out the WRITING (HILOBROW) section of this post; to see what’s coming up soon, please see the post 3Q2024 SNEAK PEEK.


SEMIOVOX, my branding consultancy’s eponymous website, is published by SEMIOVOX LLC; I’m the editor. For a full update on what we’ve published recently, please see the post SEMIOVOX 2Q2024. Here, I’ll just mention a few highlights.

MAKING SENSE WITH… is a long-running series of Q&As dedicated to revealing what makes semioticians tick. Here’s the 2Q2024 series lineup:



Babylon Berlin

The series DECODER explores fictional semiotician-esque action as depicted in books, movies, TV shows, etc. Here’s the 2Q2024 series lineup:

Antje Weißenborn (Germany) on BABYLON BERLIN | Ximena Tobi (Argentina) on SIX FEET UNDER | Mariane Cara (Brazil) on ROPE | Maria Papanthymou (Greece) on MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS | Chirag Mediratta (India) on BLEACH | Dimitar Trendafilov (Bulgaria) on THE MATRIX | Martha Arango (Sweden) on ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE | Becks Collins (UK) on THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY | Ivan Islas (Mexico) on THE NAME OF THE ROSE.


I’m coordinator for SEMIOFEST SESSIONS, a series of online get-togethers — intended not only to share best practices among, but to nurture collegiality and friendship within the global semio community.

For a full update on recent Semiofest Sessions, please see the post SEMIOVOX 2Q2024. Here are two examples:

APRIL: SEMIOTICS & POLITICS. As semioticians, we are valued not only for our expertise but our objectivity. In a world (and branding landscape) becoming more ideologically polarised, how can applied semiotics meaningfully engage with political issues? In this session, three experienced semioticians will share their perspectives on election-campaign communications, how brands mediate nationhood, and how activists can make use of cultural-insights work.

JUNE: LIMINALITY POST-PORTO (I) The theme of Semiofest Porto, in May, was LIMINALITY. The conference was a great success… but we all wanted more! So Sónia Marques has invited Jerry Mathew, Alice Sweitzer, and Shion Yokoo to chat with us about: Bridging Cyber Liminality and Ancient Wisdom, The Semiotics of Protest and Demonstration in Berlin’s Consumer Culture, and Liminality and Theatricality in Performances. This is the first of two liminality-themed post-Porto sessions.


During 2Q2024, in addition to the RADIUM AGE ART and RADIUM AGE POETRY series, I wrote the following solo HILOBROW series and posts.

SEMIOPUNK is an irregular series dedicated to surfacing examples (and predecessors) of the sf subgenre that HILOBROW was the first to name “semiopunk.” Here’s the 2Q2024 lineup:



The series FIRST TIME AS COMEDY is devoted to surfacing examples of a recursive, often middlebrow syndrome whereby comedy is adapted (without acknowledgment) as drama. Here’s the 2Q2024 lineup:



April 2021 — West Roxbury, Mass.

STREET SCHEMA is a miniseries — within SCHEMATIZING — via which I’m sharing my photos of manhole covers, the design of which can serve as visualization tools for a semiosphere’s structure.


1963 Monster Magic Action Trading Cards Complete Base Set & Lenticular Lens

In May, I began publishing the irregular series NOT TODAY, EBAY — a series of posts via which I share recent examples of stuff that I was tempted to purchase from eBay… but, heroically, didn’t.


ALSO: I’ve continued to add installments in the solo series SCHEMATIZING, SCREENSHOTS, and PHOTO DUMP.


Pictured: James Parker (left) and Matthew Battles; not pictured: Tom Nealon. James’s excellent, well-received book Get Me Through the Next Five Minutes: Odes to Being Alive was published earlier this month.

I continue to toil at fiction-writing with the support of my writer’s group — shown above in action at our Roslindale clubhouse, which doubles as Pazzo Books HQ.


Getting the word out, during 2Q2024…


For a full update on recent Radium Age series publicity, please see the post RADIUM AGE 2Q2024. Here are a few examples.

  • I was interviewed about the series on the NPR (KPCW) show COOL SCIENCE RADIO. The episode aired on April 4th.
  • The conservative newspaper New York Sun published a story on the series, on April 11. Excerpt: “Edited by Joshua Glenn, a semiotician and scholar with little patience for academia, a series of books from the MIT Press is an attempt to, if not set the literary record straight, then give it a wider grounding.” Also: “The cover designs for the series are the work of Gregory Gallant, better known as Seth. His illustrations achieve an eye-grabbing balance between the futuristic and the retro.” About The Inhumans: “Mr. Chattopadhyay divines anti-colonialist sentiment within Roy’s satirical take on the strictures of civilization.” About Man’s World: “A dystopian conundrum and an alarming read.”
  • Writing for Locus (the March print issue; published online on April 14), Niall Harrison had the following to say about our translation of The Inhumans. “The historical parallax provided by a book such as The Inhumans is, for me, where the full potential of the [Radium Age] project shines through.”
  • The sf magazine Strange Horizons reviewed The Inhumans and Other Stories like so: “By presenting four pieces originally written in Bangla and here translated into English for the first time, the book demonstrates that the Radium Age was a truly global phenomenon.” And: “For a book so full of experiments gone wrong, the inclusion of The Inhumans and Other Stories in the Radium Age series feels utterly right.”
  • In June, Strange Horizons also published an interview with Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay about The Inhumans and Other Stories. Excerpt: “With Bangla SF there’s a further twist here: the modern scientific enterprise, with its professional scientist class, its technical instruments and infrastructure, its claims to reason and objective pure knowledge, is largely seen as a European or colonial import. And it works at times and doesn’t work at others, it’s imperfect and incomplete, so there’s plenty there that’s already suspect despite a claim to objectivity and truth, which is generally a source of amusement. Poking fun at those who take themselves too seriously, or those who are higher in the hierarchy, is a favorite pastime of Bengalis…”


I continue to oversee operations at GO WEST, the coworking space that I cofounded in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood.


In April, my brother Pat and I continued to visit my mother several times a week, as she recovers from a stroke in a long-term chronic care facility. She likes to paint spirals.



In May, Susan and I spent a week in Portugal with Sam and Max, and their girlfriends Kayla and Diana. We stayed in Moledo (on the beach), Soajo (on the border of the Peneda-Gerês National Park), and in the city of Porto. Blissful!


In late June, Susan and I relocated to Kingston, NY — for what we hope will be a substantial part of the summer (with trips back to Boston as needed).


On to 3Q2024…

MORE HYPOCRISY: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022 | 2023 | 1Q2024 | 2Q2024 | 3Q2024.


About Josh, Idleness