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Everyone: As Rebecca Edwards said a few days ago, I've been following the recent revival of debate over the term "Gilded Age" from Ankara, where I've been settling into a semester as a guest professor teaching, among other things, the Gilded Age. About four years ago, I began researching the origins of the use of "Gilded Age" as a period term. My original motive was to set the record straight, but I've become fascinated by what is clearly an involved episode in the intellectual history of the 1920s and in the intellectual history of United States history. As soon as possible I will fill the gaps in my research and put it in article form. In brief, here's what I've found so far: from the publication of the Twain-Warner novel in 1873 through World War I, the term "Gilded Age" appears rarely except in direct reference to the novel or the play derived from it. The Twain-Warner novel and the resulting play were indeed understood as satirizing contemporary mores, but they had an ambivalent literary reputation which may have inhibited adoption of the term. While surely I will find more as I work on this, I can count on one hand the number of published American uses of "Gilded Age" I have found so far from 1873 to 1917 that are not an obvious, direct reference to the novel or play. On several occasions over about a half-dozen years, I have publicly offered a reward of $5 per reference for uses of "Gilded Age" that date from 1873-1917 and are NOT a reference to the novel or play. So far, this challenge has cost me a total of $5. It is easy to demonstrate that use of "Gilded Age" as a period term took hold among literary and cultural critics in the 1920s and spread to historians in the late 1920s and the 1930s through works such as the Beards' _Rise of American Civilization_ and Parrington's _Main Currents_. The original popularizers of the term are almost certainly Van Wyck Brooks and the young Lewis Mumford, who began his career as a cultural critic and protege of Brooks, among others. In his 1920 critique, _Ordeal of Mark Twain_, Brooks has a chapter called, "The Gilded Age," in which he divorces the phrase from the novel and turns it into a motif or trope for the stifling materialism and vulgarity that Brooks saw as characterizing the late 1800s. In widely read works such as _The Golden Day_, Mumford picked up on this term and employed it with familiar, dismissive connotations that Mumford would himself repudiate in _The Brown Decades_ (1931), an innovate and unusually appreciate cultural history and analysis of the Gilded Age. Brooks also repudiated his earlier denigration of the Gilded Age in works such as _New England: Indian Summer_, one of the most readable of his inconsistent "Makers and Finders" series. Both Mumford and Brooks discuss the Gilded Age and their changing attitudes towards it in their various memoirs. I am emphatically not arguing that a dismissive evaluation of late-nineteenth-century culture was not widespread among cultural critics at the time, only that "Gilded Age" did not take hold in the form with which we are familiar -- for better or worse -- until the 1920s and that decades's lively debates over useful and oppressive historical tendencies in American culture. As for the term itself and whether the profession should continue using it, I profess to being an agnostic. Usually, debates over periodization are more interesting than their results. It would be a nuisance to have to change the name of SHGAPE's journal. Since the 1950s and 1960s, there have been a number of attempts to drain "Gilded Age" of dismissive connotations and turn it into an analytical term. The best known and perhaps most ambitious were the efforts in the 1960s by historians such as H. Wayne Morgan to identify "Gilded Age" with modernization, which turned the Progressive Era into, as Samuel Hays put it in the late 1950s, a "response to industrialism." Almost all readers of this list would agree that no efforts to define "Gilded Age" so that it doesn't carry unfortunate connotations have worked so far. As he noted a few days ago, Richard Schneirov will bravely offer his own analytical definition of the Gilded Age in a forum in our journal in July. I hope that everyone will read this and that his article sparks more debate on this list. Alan Lessoff Professor of History Illinois State University <email@example.com> <www.ilstu.edu/~ahlesso>