1. “Equality,” “prejudice,” “race” itself — how can you have mid-nineteenth-century characters use words like those without anachronistically evoking the connotations they have for us? To many of Lincoln’s contemporaries and even his allies, “equality”still evoked alarming echoes of the French Revolution. To speak of “race equality” implied not just that people should all be treated alike, but that the races really were morally and intellectually equivalent. That was an extreme and dubious proposition to all but a few radical Republicans, like Thaddeus Stevens.

    — Geoff Nunberg on how connotations have changed since the 19th century and how those connotations are alluded to in Tony Kushner’s screen adaptation of Lincoln.

  2. Fresh Air


    Geoff Nunberg

    Historical language