Carl Michael Garris

Carl Michael Garris

Class of 2013

PhD Student in Medieval History at Columbia University in New York City

  • Bachelor's Degree of Arts and Sciences in Medieval Studies from the University of South Carolina Honors College
"I'm from Chapin, South Carolina, originally. I'd been interested in learning since I was a small child, especially about the world and its history, both human and natural."

When I was small, I was always full of questions and excited to explore. I leaped at the opportunity to study at GSSM and to live at a residential program.

At GSSM, I met Dr. Carlanna Hendrick, teacher of history, who truly changed my life. She helped me discover and embrace my passion for history, from her rigorous classes, to travels to medieval villages in the foothills of the Alps, to quiet chats on rainy afternoons in her office. She told me to do what I love, and I have.

I conducted research at Furman University during my time at GSSM. Having done scientific research while in high school gave me the experience and confidence to embark on a major research project at USC as a Freshman. Working with Dr. Scott Gwara, I took USC's thirteenth-century Oxford pocket bible to Stanford, where we used X-rays from its Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource to decipher an erased ownership inscription on its first parchment page. The deciphered inscription showed that Franciscan friars had used the book to preach in medieval England. I wouldn't have been able to pursue such an interdisciplinary project without my background at GSSM.

Since then, I've continued to combine my passions for science and history through studies in the Digital Humanities--using computer science to aid in historical research--and through exploring the potential of scientific proxy evidence in understanding human history. 

Last autumn, I was named a finalist for the competitive Marshall Scholarship, though I was ultimately not selected for funding. I have been accepted to pursue a PhD at Columbia University under mentors Neslihan Senocak, who studies parish-level Christianity in medieval Europe, Adam Kosto, who uses Digital Humanities to better explore our written sources, and Alexandre Roberts, whose work on Byzantium (medieval Greece/Turkey) can facilitate my study of the medieval Christian Church and the wider world. 

In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, travel, and historical video games, for which I create user modifications ("mods") enhancing historical accuracy. This summer, I am working on finishing a book I'm coauthoring with Dr. Scott Gwara on the history of USC's medieval manuscript collection.