Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Professor Profile: Mary Wiles

Growing up, Mary Margaret Wiles had not been exposed to Europe. It wasn’t until she traveled to France for the first time as an undergraduate that her interest was piqued. Wiles pursued graduate school in Paris, studying French film, as well as French literature. In the late 1970s, Wiles earned her B.A. in English at Southern Methodist University.

She hung a master’s degree in film studies from the University of Iowa on her wall in 1982. The following year, Wiles traveled to France for four years, studying cinematography and earning her D.E.A. Wiles then returned to the U.S. and taught Communications at the University of Texas, as well as at Southern Methodist University.

By 1990, Wiles gained another M.A., this time in French, and gave well over half a dozen conference presentations. Over the next six years, Wiles served on a film board at the University of Iowa and worked as a teaching assistant in both English and French at the University of Florida. Wiles took home a second place prize for a short film she made in 1994 entitled International Terminal #5.

Last year, Wiles’ work on Jacques Rivette’s Noroit, “Sounding Out the Operatic,” was put into print. Several other writings on films were published in professional journals and publications, with topics ranging from the film La Femme Nikita> to The Fascination of the Lesbian Fetish.

Wiles won an “Excellence in Teaching Award” twice in the last five years. For the last year, Wiles has found her home at FAU as a visiting Communication instructor, teaching numerous courses ranging from “Film to the 1940s” to “Film Theory.”

While spending time abroad, some friends enticed Wiles to actually look up Rivette in a Paris directory and give him a ring. The French film director answered the phone and arranged a meeting in a local cafí©. This was the defining “moment” for Wiles, as she and her French liaison friend with sound equipment sat all day waiting for him.

“Rivette and I simply had a long conversation. We just talked. He was very generous. He gave me a feeling of connection,” said Wiles. “There was a rush of energy. He gave me the push I needed to complete my dissertation.”

On August 20, she defended her dissertation, claiming the filmmaker Jacques Rivette borrows a modernist representation of his mentor, Jean Cocteau’s theatrical work. Wiles defines Rivette’s experimental work as theatrical, and one film, Noroit, borrows specifically from opera. He is widely known in the world of avant-garde film, but Wiles was the first to point out Rivette’s use of Cocteau’s operatic mise-en-scene. She also demonstrates that Rivette’s films should be studied by students in academic film and theatre departments.

Wiles is currently trying to get an academic press to publish her work on Rivette, for not much work has been published on the director before. Hopefully, “Sounding Out the Operatic” will be incorporated within a college textbook for readership of film students before long.

“Cross your fingers,” said Wiles.

As far as Wiles’ future is concerned, she is checking out her options to teach around the country. Wiles’ preference is stay put at FAU, where she has been for two years, following six years working for UF.

“I do like Gainesville, but geographically speaking, I prefer to be by the ocean,” Wiles claimed.

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    jarekMar 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    so proud of your accomplishments…