Skip to main content

“Paris Sewers and Sewermen” will be the subject of UNC history professor Donald Reid’s free public lecture on Feb. 27 at 5:30 p.m. in room 4003 at the FedEx Global Education Center.

The FedEx Global Education Center is located at 301 Pittsboro St., Chapel Hill.

Reid, a historian of modern France and a labor historian, has worked on the “long 1968” as an intellectual, social and political phenomenon, and on the history of collective memory in modern France. He holds a fellowship at the National Humanities Center, and teaches two courses at UNC, including HIST 140 “The World Since 1945” and HIST 776 “Modern France.” His book “Paris Sewers and Sewermen: Realities and Representations, which discusses the expansion of the Paris sewer system during the Second Empire and Third Republic as a technological and political triumph, will be the lecture’s.

In “Les Misérables,” Victor Hugo wrote of a dangerous, disordered world in Paris and took readers to its underground counterpart, the city’s sewers. Yet within a few years of the novel’s publication, visitors to Paris considered their trip incomplete without being taken by sewermen on a boat ride through the city’s sewers. What happened and how did sewer workers and engineers change the way Parisians thought about what had been such a source of anxiety and fear not long before? Attendees will learn the answers to these questions and more during Reid’s lecture.

Published February 21, 2013