Elizabeth Foley O'Connor

  • Acting Chair (Spring 2023) and Associate Professor of English; Director of the Gender Studies Program

Portrait photo of Liz O'Connor

Elizabeth Foley O’Connor is an Associate Professor of English at Washington College where she teaches classes in modernism, twentieth century British literature, postcolonial literature, composition, and journalism. She is the Director of the Gender Studies minor and is Internship Coordinator for the English department.

My upcoming academic biography, Pamela Colman Smith: Artist, Feminist & Mystic, will be jointly published by Clemson University Press and Liverpool University Press on March 2, 2021.

oconnor book cover 


Pamela Colman Smith’s illustrations for the Rider Waite tarot deck are known to millions worldwide, but her many other contributions as an artist, folklorist, editor, and suffragist have received relatively little attention until recently. She was active from the 1890s through the 1920s, during the critical transition from the Victorian to Modernist eras.

An American citizen, Colman Smith was born in England, spent part of her childhood in Jamaica, traveled frequently between New York and Dublin during her peak years of productivity, before retiring to Cornwall where she died in 1951. Although today primarily remembered for designing the Rider-Waite tarot deck, she was a seminal figure in early modernism. My book explores how Colman Smith adopted multiple identities during different parts of her life: Jamaican folk tale teller, suffragist, and ambiguously gendered pixie and how these personas, coupled with a fearlessness unusual for women in this period, affected her critical reception and led to her longstanding lack of recognition. 

In July 2018, I wrote the biography section and served as co-author of a mass market art book, Pamela Colman Smith: The Untold Story, that was published by U.S. Games, Inc. The lavishly illustrated, commemorative book marked the 140th anniversary of Colman Smith’s birth contains more than three hundred reproductions of Colman Smith work, many of which had been out of print for decades or unpublished. The contributors were Stuart Kaplan, Mary Greer and Melinda Boyd Parsons.


Originally from Long Island, O’Connor lived in New York City for many years before moving to Chestertown with her husband and son in the summer of 2013. In her spare time, she likes to go on nature hikes with her family, work in her garden, and do yoga.


B.A., Hofstra University, 2000

M.A., Stony Brook University, 2003

Ph.D., Fordham University, 2012

Other Publications

“Uncovering the Real-Life Lizzie Twigg: Misperception and Identity in ‘Lestrygonians.’” James Joyce Quarterly, forthcoming.

“‘We Disgruntled Devils Don’t Please Anyone: Pamela Colman Smith, The Green Sheaf, and Female Literary Networks.” The South Carolina Review. 48.2, Winter 2016: 72-89.

“Pamela Colman Smith’s Performative Primitivism” Caribbean Irish Connections: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Eds. Allison Donell, Maria McGarrity, and Evelyn O’Callaghan.  Mona: University of the West Indies Press, June, 2015.

“Kate O’Brien, James Joyce, and ‘the Lonely Genius.’” Joycean Legacies. Ed. Martha Carpentier. Manchester: Palgrave Macmillan Irish Studies, May 2015.

“Beyond Vengeance: Ford’s When the Wicked Man as a Writerly Response to Jean Rhys.” Ford Madox Ford and America, Vol. 11. Eds. Sarah Haslam and Seamus O’Malley. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, September 2012: 121-137.

“Jean Rhys’s Quartet: A Re-Inscription of Ford’s The Good Soldier.” Ford Madox Ford, Modernist Magazines and Editing,. Vol. 9. Ed. Jason Harding. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 2010.

“‘A Splendid Forlorn Hope’: Fin-de-Siècle Little Magazines, Modernism, and the Public Sphere.” Origins of English Literary Modernism, 1870-1914, Ed. Gregory Tague. Bethesda: Academica Press, 2008: 27-42.

Research & Teaching Interests

Twentieth-Century British Literature

Modernism and Modernist Cinema

Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

History of the British Novel

Irish Culture and Literature

Urbanism and the City

Theories of Vision and Perception

Feminist and Gender Studies

Fin-de-Siècle Little Magazines and Modernist Print Culture