chapter  7
The Wrong Shoe, by Elizabeth de Freitas
Pages 16

Introduction The novella The Wrong Shoe follows an educational researcher named Martha West as she relentlessly interrogates her research intentions while completing an ethnographic study of a private girls school. Through continuous self-scrutiny, Martha West emerges as a confl icted witness to the often cruel and always complex power relations of school culture. The roots of Martha West’s dilemma lie in the humanist tradition of the moral agent. She longs to serve the researched community, as though doing so were a straightforward matter of fi nding and then following through with the correct intentions. The focus on research intentions foregrounds the politics of writing research. Martha dwells on her ethnographic intentions, naming the constraints that regulate her voice, questioning the process of re-inscription in the school archives, and tracing the path of power relations across the school terrain. The novella depicts a form of self-disturbing sustained refl ection-a “rigorous disorientation” (St. Pierre 2004)—that functions to disperse the good intentions of

the main character. As Martha encounters various other characters at the school-Agnes Fu (a new teacher), Red (a student), and Elizabeth Bain (a veteran administrator)—and attempts to tell their story, these characters shift and alter the terrain, forcing Martha to confront her desires.