Publication Date

Spring 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Kelly Reames (Director), Wes Berry, and Alison Langdon

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


In her master work, Loba, Diane di Prima revises a variety of traditionally malecentered narratives from a feminist viewpoint in the long tradition of feminist revision that is a cornerstone of Second Wave Feminism. This thesis examines five of the revisions of Christian, Jewish, and Greek stories present in Loba: The Virgin Mary, Eve, Lilith, Helen of Troy, and Persephone. Di Prima revises these stories to include the full— physical, spiritual, and emotional—experience of the woman, often from her own point of view, to give the woman agency over her own story and subvert the woman-as-object tradition present in male-authored and male-centered texts.

Di Prima’s revision of Mary’s Annunciation, Nativity, and Coronation stories emphasize her physical trauma and lack of agency over her own body eventually leaving Mary trapped in the dogma of her own son’s kingdom. The revision of Eve reinvests Eve with her original female creative power as the mother of all and provided her with some degree of freedom within the patriarchal structure of her marriage to Adam. Di Prima’s revision of Lilith’s story reclaims her sexuality as a source of feminine power and ultimately liberates Lilith. The revision of Helen of Troy is unique in that di Prima chooses to revise a text by a woman rather than a man. In her revision of Helen, di Prima removes Helen’s idolized pedestal and her male suitors providing Helen space to define herself for herself. Di Prima’s revisions of Persephone focus less on her physical experience as a woman and more on her experiences with her different roles and relationships. Di Prima creates space for Persephone to exist in her many roles—wife, daughter, working woman—all at the same time allowing Persephone to be her whole and true self. In each of these revisions, di Prima reinvests the women with agency over their own stories with the overall goal to give women the tools to fight the patriarchy from within.


American Literature | American Studies | Poetry | Religion | Women's Studies