Pickering, Mary B

Professor of History


Preferred: mary.pickering@sjsu.edu


Preferred: (408) 924-5516




Ph.D., Harvard University, History, June 1988

          Dissertation: "Auguste Comte: His Life and Works (1798-1842)"

          Advisor: Professor Donald Fleming

D. E. A. - Diplôme d'Etudes Approfondies (French equivalent to A.B.D.) -  Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Paris), Cycle Supérieur d'Histoire du XXe Siècle, December 1984

          Dissertation: "Auguste Comte et John Stuart Mill: L'Histoire d'une rencontre"

          Advisor: Professor René Rémond.

A.M., Harvard University, History, June 1976

A.B., Harvard University, History, June 1975

         Graduated in three years; Phi Beta Kappa; magna cum laude


A native of San Francisco, Dr. Pickering earned her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. In addition, she has an advanced graduate degree (D.E.A.) in history from Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Science Po) in Paris. Her research interests revolve around modern European intellectual, cultural, and social history and European women's history. Her articles have appeared in French Historical Studies, Journal of the History of Ideas, Journal of Women's History, Historical Reflections, Revue internationale de philosophie, and Revue philosophique. She has also written a three-volume biography of the nineteenth-century French philosopher Auguste Comte, which was published by Cambridge University Press. She received an NEH grant in 1991 in support of this project. Volumes two and three were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the History of Science Society's Pfizer Prize. In 2018, University of Pittsburg Press published Love, Order, and Progress: The Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Auguste Comte, which she edited with Michel Bourdeau and Warren Schmaus. In 2010, Dr. Pickering received the College of Social Sciences Austen D. Warburton Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement. She also received the San Jose State University President's Scholar Award. In May 2013, she was named one of “Top 20 Women Professors in California” by StateStats.org.



  • Auguste Comte: An Intellectual Biography. Volumes 1-3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993-2009. 
  • Love, Order, and Progress: The Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Auguste Comte, edited with Michael Bourdeau and Warren Schmaus (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018).

Articles and Book Chapters

  • "Auguste Comte." In Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy, edited by Mortimer Sellers and Stephan Kirste(Dordrecht: Springer, 2021). https://link.springer.com/referencework/10.1007/978-94-007-6730-0
  • “Comte, Isidore-Auguste-Marie-François-Xavier (1798–1857). ” In The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (REP Online), 2020, https://www.rep.routledge.com
  • "L’Empreinte positiviste sur les femmes progressistes anglaises et américaine.” In Femmes et Positivismes, edited by Annie Petit and David Labreure (Strasbourg: Presses universitaires de Strasbourg 2020).
  • "Positivism in European Intellectual, Political, and Religious Life.” In The Cambridge History of Modern European Thought, volume 1, edited by Warren Breckman and Peter Gordon. 151-171. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).
  • "Auguste Comte and Positivism.” In The Cambridge History of French Thought, edited by Jeremy Jennings and Michael Moriarty. 342-52. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,  2019).
  • "Auguste Comte and the Curious Case of English Women.” In Anthem Companion to Auguste Comte, edited by Andrew Wernick. 175-204. London: Anthem Press, 2017.
  • "Auguste Comte.” In Dos intelectuais na política à politíca dos intelectuais: pensadores, escritores e militantes no didiálog com o poder, edited by Flavio M. Heinz. 17-39. São Leopoldo, Brazil: Oikos, 2015.
  • "Saint-Simon, Claude Henri (1760-1825)." Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2d edition, edited by George Ritzer. Blackwell Publishing, 2015. Blackwell Reference Online.
  • "Auguste Comte.” The Philosophers’ Magazine. No 59 (2012): 62-64.
  • "Le positivisme philosophique: Auguste Comte.” Revue interdisciplinaire d’études juridiques.  No. 2011.67 (2011) : 49-67.
  • "Auguste Comte." In New Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists, edited by George Ritzer and Jeffrey Stepnisky. Oxford: Blackwell, 2011.
  • "Auguste Comte." In The Literary Encyclopedia, edited by Robert Clark. 2010. Online publication.
  • Saint-Simon, Claude Henri (1760–1825)." In Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, edited by George Ritzer. Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Blackwell Reference Online.
  • "Auguste Comte and the Académie des Sciences." Revue philosophique, 132 (2007): 437–50.
  • "Introduction" to Auguste Comte/Caroline Massin, Correspondance inédite: l'histoire de Caroline Massin, épouse d'Auguste Comte à travers leur correspondance. 5–41. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2006.
  • "Comte." In Routledge Encyclopedia of Social Theory, edited by Austin Harrington, Barbara Marshall, and Hans-Peter Müller. London: Routledge, 2006.
  • "Auguste Comte." In Fifty Key Sociologists: The Formative Theorists, edited by John Scott. 21–25. London: Routledge, 2006.
  • "Auguste Comte." In Encyclopedia of Europe 1789–1914, edited by Jay Winter and John Merriman. New York: Charles Scribner's, 2006.
  • "Comte" and "Positivism." In Edinburgh Dictionary of Continental Philosophers, edited by John Protevi. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005.
  • "L'Art de la mémoire dans le système positiviste." In Auguste Comte Aujourd'hui: Colloque de Cerisy (3-10 juillet 2001), edited by Michael Bourdeau, Jean-François Braunstein, Annie Petit. 223–239. Paris: Kimé, 2003.
  • "Auguste Comte." In International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, edited by Neil J. Smelser and Paul B. Baltes. Oxford: Pergamon/Elsevier Science, 2001.
  • "Clotilde de Vaux and the Search for Identity." In The New Biography: Performing Femininity in Nineteenth-Century France, edited by Jo Burr Margadant. 137–170. Berkeley: UC Press, 2000.
  • "Auguste Comte." In Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists, edited by George Ritzer. 25–52. Oxford: Blackwell, 2000.
  • "Auguste Comte et la Question du Genre." In Auguste Comte et le positivisme, edited by Zeïneb Ben Cherni-Saïd. 169–185. Carthage, Tunisia: Académie Tunisienne des Sciences, des Lettres et des Arts "Beït Al-Hikma," 2000.
  • "Auguste Comte e a esfera pública de Habermas" ("Auguste Comte and the Public Sphere of Habermas"). In O Positivismo: Teoria e prática, edited by Helgio Trindade. 59–69. Porto Alegre, Brazil: Editora da Universidade, 1999. This article was also published as "Auguste Comte et la sphère publique de Jürgen Habermas," In Auguste Comte: Trajectoires Positivistes 1798–1998, edited by Annie Petit. 229–237. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2003.
  • "Auguste Comte and the Revolution of 1848." In Proceedings of the Consortium on Revolutionary Europe, 1750–1850, XXIX, (1999).
  • "Comte." In A Companion to the Philosophers, edited by Robert L. Arrington. 193–195. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.
  • "Auguste Comte and the Return to Primitivism." Revue Internationale de Philosophie 52 (1998): 51–77.
  • "A New Look at Auguste Comte." In Reclaiming the Sociological Classics, edited by Charles Camic. 11–44. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.
  • "Rhetorical Strategies in the Works of Auguste Comte." Historical Reflections/ Réflexions Historiques 23 (Spring 1997): 151–75.
  • "Angels and Demons in the Moral Vision of Auguste Comte." Journal of Women's History 8 (Summer 1996): 10–40.
  • "Auguste Comte and the Saint-Simonians." French Historical Studies 18 (Spring 1993): 211–36.
  • "New Evidence of the Link between Comte and German Philosophy." Journal of the History of Ideas 50 (1989): 443–63.

Selected Achievements
SJSU Peer Connections Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Teaching, Fall 2020.

Named one of “Top 20 Women Professors in California” by StateStats.org, May 2013.

President's Scholar Award, San José State University, 2010-2011.

College of Social Sciences 2009–2010 Austen D. Warburton Award of Merit for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement in History, April 2010.

Elected to Phi Kappa Phi in recognition of scholarly distinction, 2005.

Invited to speak at Hosei University, Tokyo (2017), the Centre Culturel International de Cerisy-la-Salle, France (2001), the Académie Tunisienne des Sciences, des Lettres, et des Arts in Carthage, Tunisia (1999), and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (1998, 2007).

Elected to Society of Fellows of Dyson College, Pace University, in recognition of devotion to undergraduate education, 1992.

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship for College Teachers and Independent Scholars, 1991-92.

Exchange Scholar between Harvard University and Institut d'Etudes Politiques, 1983–84.

Fellowship from the French Government, 1983–84.

Gilbert Chinard Scholarship from the Institut Français de Washington, 1983.