Taking as its starting point an obscure detective novel published in 1874 and subtitled A Tale of Hartford and New York, this seminar will explore the many facets of urban culture in Gilded Age America. With a primary focus on New York City, students will reconstruct the social, commercial, institutional, and intellectual worlds that constituted the nation's metropolis in the aftermath of the Civil War. Clues in the novel suggest ways of mapping class, gender, and race in the city's social geography. The novel comments perceptively and acerbically on manners, mores, religion, politics, and publishing in the Gilded Age. Institutional structures to be investigated include fashionable churches, department stores, charity nurseries for working mothers, jails, and police courts. Kleptomania, epilepsy, and alcoholism figure prominently in the narrative. Popular entertainment in bourgeois parlors, saloons, and gaming halls enlivens the text. The novel also charts the beginnings of the colonial revival movement with its emphasis on historic preservation. The class will collectively construct an archive of primary sources that reveal the understandings of city life that prevailed among the novel's original audience. The seminar offers students the opportunity to pursue original research as principal investigators on key topics in urban cultural history.