Tangled tales, entangled ales: Examining recursive islandness through themes of place in Newfoundland craft beer

MA Island Studies | University of Prince Edward Island

Supervisory committee:
Dr. Laurie Brinklow (UPEI), Dr. Ryan Gibson (U Guelph), Dr. Kelly Vodden (MUN), Dr. Josh MacFadyen (UPEI)


With islands understood as generative sites of relational entanglement, and craft beer itself described as a zone of entanglement and meaning-building, it should come as no surprise that Newfoundland’s craft beer brands are brimming with richly entangled themes of place. But what does that look like?
This creative thesis project examines themes of place in the burgeoning craft beer community on the island of Newfoundland. Engaging Anthropocene thinking and traditional textile practices, representations of these themes will be mapped and stitched onto an existing (literal) patchwork quilt. In doing so, the patchwork itself becomes a site of generative ‘becoming’ and the project reveals itself as a figure of recursive islandness.
When the intangible becomes tangible, knowledge is able to be shared in accessible, relatable ways. This project seeks to highlight the richness — and fun! — of relational approaches and tangled tales, opening up opportunities for alternative forms of thought and practice in Island Studies and the broader Anthropocene.

VIDEO: Adventures in the recursive islandness of Newfoundland craft beer
[13 mins]
Presentation for the 17th International Small Islands Studies Association (ISISA) Conference, June 2021
Stream here or watch on YouTube


The concept of recursive islandness emerged while reframing my thesis research as a creative project. Once recognized, it has itself become a recurring theme throughout my both my written and creative work.


While discussing embroidery stitches with friend, textile artist, and quilter Nancy Cole (IG), we realized that my original ‘quilt’ had in fact not yet been truly quilted (all layers joined/stitched together)! This takes my project to a whole new level, as I will now be not only contributing meaningful new layers, as planned, but actually finishing it by hand-quilting it as part of my stitching.
This digital mock-up (right) shows the plan as far as stitching: Longitude and latitude lines for main quilting stitches, interrupted by (or, in a way, in conversation with) seed stitches representing the density of cod stocks in 1850 (source) and clusters of French knots representing the communities abandoned as a result of resettlement from 1950–2019 (sourcesource). Quilting began mid-July and I estimate will take about 100 hours — at least. Check back for updates, and/or follow along on Instagram (@recursiveislandness) to see what I’m up to!