Beneath the frivolous exterior of such games as occasions for idle banter, flirtation, and seduction, there often lay a lively contest for power and agency, and the opportunity for conventional women to demonstrate their intellect, to achieve a public identity, and even to model new behaviour and institutions in the non-ludic world. By tapping into the records and cultural artifacts of these games, George McClure recovers a realm of female fame that has largely escaped the notice of modern historians, and in so doing, reveals a cohort of spirited, intellectual women outside of the courts.
Highlighting the recurrent images throughout these works, Sambuco traces these back to alternative forms of communication between mother and daughter, as well as to the female body. Sambuco also explores the attempts of the daughter-narrators to define a female self that is outside the constrictions of patriarchal society. Through these investigations, Corporeal Bonds identifies a strong connection between the ideas of post-Lacanian critical theorists, Italian feminist thinkers, and the stories within the novels.