Focus on Research
Penn State Intercom......August 9, 2001

Cromwell, spin doctors had much
in common, according to professor

By Julie A. Brink
Public Information

The comic images and satirical verses that plagued Oliver Cromwell during the years he ruled England have a lot in common with the work of modern-day political commentators.

That's according to a University professor who has written a book about the phenomenon. Laura Knoppers, professor of English, is the author of "Constructing Cromwell: Ceremony, Portrait, and Print, 1645-1661." The book examines how shifting popular images and satire shaped perceptions of this revolutionary public figure. RESEARCH„Knoppers

Cromwell ruled England as Lord Protector from 1653 to 1658. He came to power following a civil war, the military purging of Parliament and the public execution of Charles I. After Cromwell's death, his son Richard ruled briefly as Lord Protector. Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660.

"There are links between political satire in England 1640-1660 and political cartoons, satirical columnists and commentators -- the Jay Leno crowd -- today," Knoppers said. "Cromwell did not rule by divine right. He was more vulnerable. He provoked critical attack. Although backed by military power, he also depended on the consent of the people."

Cromwell, although a member of the gentry, was mocked as a brewer and a social up-start. Cromwell's physical traits -- bulbous nose, thinning hair and pocked skin -- were exaggerated and caricatured much as in editorial cartoons today. Detractors saw him as a buffoon, a coward and a duplicitous usurper of Charles I's throne. Supporters saw him as a serious godly man and a citizen soldier.

Newsbooks, precursors of today's newspapers, praised Cromwell's military victories and criticized his politics, depending on whether the publication had a Parliamentarian or a Royalist slant. It was during this period that licensing and censorship fell apart in England. "For the first time they're printing domestic news," Knoppers said. "For the first time, they had a literate public having perceptions shaped by what appeared in print."

Cromwell's regime used the media for its own purposes -- staging ceremonies and circulating its own version of events, just as modern spin doctors do, Knoppers said. "That period is actually very relevant to contemporary issues and concerns."

Cromwell was an easy figure for poets, playwrights and balladeers to appropriate. In the beginning, Cromwell was attacked as a comic figure. Writers turned Cromwell into such an interesting villain that it heightened his public profile.

"Once unleashed, they can't control it," Knoppers said. "What they (the Royalists) worry about is that Cromwell is going to become a populist figure. Ironically, the Royalists themselves make him a much more visible figure than they intended."

Cromwell and the Independents were not without their own media campaigns. After a show trial, they beheaded Charles I in front of huge crowd of sympathetic watchers. It was a public relations disaster and an unpopular king turned into a martyr overnight. "They completely misjudged public opinion," Knoppers said.

While she was researching the book, Knoppers said she found that the Lord Protector reminded her of former President Bill Clinton. "What struck me when I was working on Cromwell was that he was an incredibly charismatic figure," she said.

Knoppers cited Cromwell's powerful earnestness and sincerity in comparison to Clinton, pointing out that detractors of the former president and Cromwell attacked both as hypocrites and machiavels.

Julie A. Brink can be reached at

Study examines management
control in U.S.-China joint ventures

China is expected to join the World Trade Organization later this year, opening up new opportunities for joint ventures between firms in the United States and China, like the recent joint-venture announcement between AOL Time Warner and Legend Holdings, China's largest computer maker.

While partners share control as well as the benefits of cooperation in international joint ventures, research by Barbara Gray of The Smeal College of Business Administration is revealing new information on management control, performance and goal achievement in U.S.-China joint ventures. She co-authored a recent study with Amin Yan of Boston University that used a sample of 90 U.S.-China manufacturing joint ventures to examine factors contributing to a firm having management control over its joint venture.

"Our results suggest that greater operational control exercised by a partner is associated only with a higher level of achievement on this partner's strategic objectives, and the division of control is not necessarily related to the international joint venture's overall success, as previous research has suggested," Gray said.

She added that in comparison with wholly owned enterprises, international joint ventures have been characterized as mixed motive games between the firms that simultaneously cooperate and compete.


Start a second
crop of veggies
for fall eating

It's not too late to plant vegetables this year. Pennsylvania gardeners can plant a second harvest right now, according to an extension specialist in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Some vegetables even taste better when harvested in cooler weather," said Peter Ferretti, professor of vegetable crops. "And you'll have fewer problems with weeds."

If dry, Ferretti suggests watering thoroughly twice each week until the rains begin in September. Lower the incidence of insects and disease by not planting certain vegetables in the same place twice. "Don't plant beans where you previously had beans or their relatives; cucumbers where you previously had cucurbits (cucumbers and melons); or cole crops (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kohlrabi) where you previously had cole crops," he said.

To select the proper crop variety, take the first frost date (usually between Sept. 20 and Oct. 10), then subtract "the number of days to harvest" plus 10. "This gives you a 10-day stretch of picking," Ferretti said. "Plant greens now, such as collards, endive, escarole, turnip greens (fall types), kale, mustard greens and spinach (fall types). You also can put in beets, carrots, cauliflower (early fall types only, like Snow Crown), kohlrabi, parsnip, radicchio, radish, rutabaga, shallots and turnip."

Some vegetables, like carrots, have trouble germinating in crusty soil. Ferretti suggests adding half an inch of vermiculite or sand over the soil, then spreading some regular radish seed along with what you're planting to break up the crust. "Radishes will germinate through anything," he said.

For a list of suggested varieties, see the College of Agricultural Sciences publication "Pennsylvania Vegetable Variety Recommendations for the Home Gardener and Bedding Plant Grower/Garden Supplier." Additional information on culture, handling, harvest and storage for selected vegetables can be found in the "Culture and Varieties for the Home Gardener" series. Free copies are available for Pennsylvania residents from county Penn State Cooperative Extension offices. Out-of-state residents can call the College of Agricultural Sciences Publications Distribution Center at (814) 865-6713. Publications also can be previewed or printed on the Web at