Senior lecturer of musicology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shelleg was previously the Schusterman Visiting Assistant Professor of Musicology and Jewish Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia (2011–14), and had taught prior to that as the visiting Efroymson Scholar in the Jewish, Islamic & Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department at Washington University in St. Louis (2009–11). Shelleg specializes in twentieth-century Jewish and Israeli art musics and has published in some of the leading journals in both musicology and Israel Studies on topics ranging from the historiography of modern Jewish art music to the theological networks of Israeli art music. Shelleg’s book, Jewish Contiguities and the Soundtrack of Israeli History, appeared in November 2014 with Oxford University Press. The book studies the emergence of modern Jewish art music in central and Western Europe (1910s-1930s) and its translocation to Palestine/Israel (1930s-1970s), exposing the legacies of European antisemitism and religious Judaism in the making of Israeli art music. Moving to consider the dislocation of modern Jewish art music the book examines the paradoxes embedded in a Zionist national culture whose rhetoric negated its pasts, only to mask process of hybridizations enchained by older legacies. Jewish Contiguities has recently won the 2015 Engle Prize for the Study of Hebrew Music and the 2016 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award of the Association for Jewish Studies.
Shelleg’s forthcoming book Theological Stains: Art Music of an Attenuating Zionist Project studies the processes by which modern Jewish culture eclipsed Zionist secular constructs. It situates the growth of Israeli art music from the 1950s to the early 2000s within the context of modern Hebrew literature and poetry, the socioethnic hierarchy of Zionism, Zionist political theology, and the discomfort of this national project with its diasporic pasts. Charting composers’ aesthetic grappling with the theological grammar of Zionism amid an Ashkenazi hegemony that sought to suppress simmering ethnic disputes while promoting Western paradigms, the book discloses an abundance of overlapping incongruities that nevertheless record the gradual muting of the national soundboard (and its theological promises) in composers’ mind, their turn to the larger canvas modern Jewish culture, and their contemporary leafing through diluted oral and written Jewish musical traditions in detrritorial dialectical paths and reenactments of loss.
Shelleg is also a regular musical contributor to Haaretz newspaper.