Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grey Literature

Some may have noticed a recent request by the journal Cultural Trends to seek out reviews of grey literature. One of the goals for this blog is to explore terms of art used by the state and other organizations for rhetorical practice because these ways of describing rhetorical practice have specific histories, and are often regulated in ways that require much more scrutiny. For example, lobbying and Electioneering Communication are two ways public policy conceptualizes rhetorical practice. Grey literature would be another term of art used to describe rhetorical practices. Grey literature would seem to be a world wide object of study as there have been ten international conferences on grey literature, the most recent one in December 2008.

In 1995, the U.S. Interagency Gray Literature Group defined Grey literature as "foreign or domestic open source material that usually is available through specialized channels and may not enter normal channels or systems of publication, distribution, bibliographic control, or acquisition by booksellers or subscription agents." The Fourth International Conference on Grey Literature defined it as "That which is produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers." According to Irwin Weintraub the goal of grey literature is "to disseminate current information to a wide audience." As the call from Cultural Trends suggests, grey literature informs policy making and its informational content is often put to persuasive ends.
Finally, the Wikipedia entry notes that grey literature has particular relevance to the "intelligence community, librarians and medical and research professionals."

Since grey literature seems to be such an important genre for creating social knowledge and shaping public opinion and public policy, rhetorical scholars might want to add grey literature to their professional concerns as well. For those with an interest in keeping track of grey literature Greynet looks to be an important resource.

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